The Appointment is Made - Now What?
Your Primary Care Physician has set your appointment with a Mental Health Professional, but what can you expect?
The Interview - During the interview, your appearance (posture, mood, body movements, and dress) will be assessed. You will be asked to describe your symptoms, be as detailed as possible. You may also be asked questions that assess your thought processes, such as your awareness of reality, logical thinking, perceptions, and potential for suicide.
Physical Exam - You will be asked questions about your past medical history and the medications you currently take. The doctor may also evaluate your nervous system by testing your reflexes, balance, and senses.
Tests - You may be asked to fill out a questionnaire. Specific disorders such as depression may use the Hamilton Rating Scale, The Beck Depression Inventory, or the Geriatric Depression Scale. Your general levels of functioning may be assessed by the Mini Mental Status Examination. Most questionnaires take only 20 to 30 minutes to complete, and can be answered quickly, often in a "yes" or "no" format.
How Long Does it Take? - The time it takes for a mental health assessment varies, depending on the reason for the assessment. An interview with written or verbal tests may last 30 to 60 minutes or longer depending on the number of tests and resources used.
Remember to relax, be as detailed as possible (keep a journal for several weeks), share your concerns with your health care professional.