What Is a Mental Health Screening?
Mental health screening includes an assessment to determine the presence of symptoms of any kind of mental health disorder. The gathered data from a mental health screening test is used to diagnose which type of mental health disorder is present, the changes in personality, and what is the proper treatment needed.
The most common disorders diagnosed during a mental health screening are:
- Depression: Depression is a type of mood disorder that causes a continuous feeling of sadness, unhappiness, or change of behaviors. This is also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder. One known condition or factor of depression is the negative experiences one has lived. Depression affects the way you think, behave, and feel. This can negatively impact one’s emotional well-being and personality.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Generalized Anxiety disorder is one of the mental health conditions involving intense feelings of fear, anxiety, nervousness, dread, and worry. You can determine people with anxiety disorders if one always shows a tense mood, worries a lot, and even goes through physical changes like high blood pressure. Anxiety and depression usually go hand-in-hand but can exist alone.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that happens to individuals who witnessed or experienced a traumatic life event such as an accident, war, sexual violence, or serious injury. People with PTSD experience nightmares, vivid flashbacks, trauma, and physical tensions like sweating or nausea even long after the traumatic event. When Post Traumatic Stress Disorder survivors think that the people they meet don’t mean well, they get flashbacks of the trauma they experienced.
- Eating Disorders: These are mental health conditions that lead to obsessive behaviors and thoughts about food, eating habits, changes in personality, and body image. A person with an eating disorder may excessively eat, severely limit their food intake, and like or admire unrealistic body goals.
- Bipolar Disorder: This is a mental health condition involving unusual mood swings, inability to concentrate, unstable social activities, and erratic energy. This causes the person with bipolar disorder the inability to effectively perform tasks of daily living.
If you or a loved one are going through anxiety, mood swings, change in behaviors, eating disorders, or other symptoms you can’t seem to explain, maybe it’s time for you to seek professional help for psychiatric screening.
What Happens During a Mental Health Screening?
A mental health screening involves different tests that usually include: physical exams, lab tests, and answering questions about personal, physical, mental, and cognitive evaluation.
- Mental Evaluation: You can expect your mental health care provider to ask questions related to your behavior patterns, thoughts, feelings, moods, and other symptoms they need to explore. It is expected that a mental health screening test will cover more detailed questions to dissect your behavior and what you feel.
- Personal and Family History: You will be asked about how long were the symptoms present, any family history, and treatments you had. You will be asked questions about your lifestyle, occupation, family life, childhood, traumatic experiences, to determine any root cause of mental health illness such as post-traumatic stress disorder or generalized anxiety disorder. It is also important for you to tell your primary care provider of any prescription drugs that you are using, excessive alcohol consumption, or substance abuse.
- Physical Exams: Physical exams may include blood tests to determine if a physical disorder is causing mental health symptoms such as thyroid diseases. It can also help you see what areas in your body need better care.
- Cognitive Evaluation: Part of mental health exams include an assessment of your ability to recall information, mental reasoning, attention or focus, remembering lists, recognizing objects and shapes, solving basic math problems, your personality, and more.
Who Can Conduct a Mental Health Screening?
Mental health screenings are usually conducted by professionals such as psychiatrists, psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
These professionals passed the necessary licensing exams and underwent advanced training and classes to conduct a mental health check for patients of different ages.
There are also mental health screening online that are available and reliable. Online screening is a good start to gather basic information when diagnosing mental health conditions. But it is always best to consult with a mental healthcare professional.
When Should You See a Mental Health Professional?
The first step to overcome any kind of disease is to consult for professional help. This is true for physiological and mental health conditions. Seeking help for mental health is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. Self-diagnosing is a no-no; Many mental disorders worsen if left untreated.
So, when should you see a mental health professional? What are the signs you should watch out for in a loved one to prompt you to seek mental health testing? Here are the signs you should be aware of:
- Feeling sad, unhappy, irritable, nervous, worried, overwhelmed, and anxious all the time
- Changes in lifestyle and habits at school, home, work, or social relationships
- Thoughts or intentions of harming oneself or others
- Excessive alcohol intake or substance abuse
- Experiencing a change in life like loss of a relationship, getting fired, or failed business
- Impaired grieving due to the death of a loved one
- Changes in body image and eating habits
- Difficulty in communicating with people in your life
- Difficulties in sexual orientation or sexual relationships
- Changes in sleeping patterns
- Frustration, anger, lack of energy, fatigue, trouble concentrating, confused thinking, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and paranoia
When there are signs of attempted suicide, professional help must be sought right away. Openly reach out or call a trusted loved one, talk to a mental health professional, or call the suicide hotlines. You can also call 911 or the NSP hotline at 1 800 273 talk.
What Are the Benefits of Mental Health Screening?
The primary benefit of mental health screening is the early diagnosis and prompt treatment if there’s any presence of a mental health condition. Once the doctor or mental health worker identifies the signs seen in your assessment, the results can help you determine the right treatment for you. The benefits will include:
- Maintaining a good quality of life
- The person won’t be at risk of hurting themselves or others
- Early diagnosis of mental health decline signs can help with preventing other physical health problems caused by a mental disorder (e.g. anorexia leading to dehydration or malnutrition).
- The person will know how to cope with stressful situations in life and still be able to live productively.
Where Can You Go?
Undiagnosed mental disorders or symptoms may lead to many negative consequences in life. It may affect your everyday living, work productivity, and relationships. Without detecting the presence of mental health disorders, your loved ones won’t be able to understand what you’re going through.
This may end in internal conflicts, health disorders, substance use, or compromised relationships. That is why it is important not to wait any further. Waiting until the symptoms get worse may affect you and lead to serious medical disorders or diseases. Seek mental health screening now and get the right treatment from a doctor or mental health worker.
At Kentucky Counseling Center, you get to know the results, the support you need, and you can get the best care possible. KCC online screening or telehealth sessions are available and are just a chat or a call away. If you see an urgent need to get support, call the NSP hotline at 1 800 273 talk. For medical emergencies related to psychological distress, you can call 911.