Mental health assessment tools are an integral part of any behavioral health clinician’s practice. These tools are used to help gain a thorough understanding of a patient’s behavioral health and functioning, largely through the identification of symptoms and details concerning life situations. Mental health assessment tools are often used in combination with one another and may include components such as clinical interviews, psychological tests and screenings, and personal histories.
Unlike routine temperature or blood tests used to assess physical health, mental health assessment relies, to a large degree, on self-reporting and self-assessment. As such, rating scales are frequently used in these self-assessments. The rating scales task patients to indicate their level of anxiety or frequency of obsessive thoughts, for example.
Rating scales can not only make it easier to get actionable, self-reported information but also provide quantitative measures to mental health providers that can be used to further assess and monitor patient concerns.
Assessment tools allow behavioral health clinicians to better form an overall, holistic understanding of a patient’s well-being. Mental health assessments also allow providers to better set and measure goals during treatment, which are essential for tracking progress.
The Importance of Assessment Tools
The use of mental health assessment provides better screening, which can lead to early intervention and thus better patient outcomes. Standardized tools provide clinicians with a means of assessing signs of mental illness in a reliable, accurate, and quantifiable way.
The use of evidence-based behavioral health assessment tools can further streamline the assessment and treatment process while also increasing the reliability of intervention and treatment.
When it comes to behavioral health assessment options, clinicians have a wide range of tools to choose from. Let's take a look at what assessment tools are used in mental health and offer some examples of clinical assessment tools.
Examples of Common Tools Used for Mental Health Assessments
The Major Depressive Disorder Subtypes for the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I.)— The M.I.N.I. assesses 17 of the most common DSM-5 mental health disorders in adults and the 24 most common in children.
The Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS)— This tool assesses functional impairment that may impact work/school, social or family life. Patients use a 10-point scale from 0-10 to report the extent of which their symptoms are impacting their lives. Zero is "not at all," 1-3 represents "mildly," 4-6 represents "moderately," 7-9 represents markedly and 10 represents "extremely."
The Sheehan—Suicidality Tracking Scale (S-STS)— This is a survey that asks patients to rate 14 questions on a scale from 0 (not at all) to 4 (extremely) to assess for suicidal thoughts or intent.
Examples of Condition-Specific Clinical Assessment Tools
There are also tools designed to address condition-specific assessments. Some examples of condition-specific clinical assessment tools include:
- <H3> The Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (YBOCS)
- <H3> The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Questionnaire (BDDQ)
There are many other options behavioral health providers can choose from. There are mental health assessment tools for students, mental health assessment tools for depression and a wide range of other disorders. Given the wide range of assessment available, it’s important for clinicians to carefully consider the potential value of the tools they use. The assessment tools practitioners use will depend on their practice focus and patient needs. Understanding what options are available can help clinicians narrow their selections to help ensure the best outcomes for their patients and maximum effectiveness and efficiency for their organizations.
What Clinicians Should Look for in Mental Health Assessments Tools
When considering which mental health assessment tools to incorporate in their practice, clinicians should consider these important qualities:
Comprehensiveness.Does the tool provide a broad assessment of possible disorders?
Accuracy.Does the tool have a high accuracy in terms of diagnosis?
Speed.How long does it take to complete the assessment? Early and accurate diagnosis is very important when treating patients.
DSM-5 compliance.Is the tool DSM-5 compliant?
Reimbursable.Clinicians must ensure they can bill for their time spent providing, reviewing, and discussing the assessment.
Independent and clinically validated.The efficacy and validity of the tools you use are critical to better ensuring proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Choosing the Right Mental Health Assessments Tools
To summarize, why are assessment tools important in mental health? They provide invaluable insights into a patient's condition that can aid in treatment and provide clinicians with the ability to monitor changes during the treatment process. Clinicians and patients today benefit from the ease, access and accuracy of digital assessment tools which are making it easier to collect and share patient-reported data and physician assessments.
nView is the recognized leader in digital mental health assessment tools, including screeners, diagnostic interviews, severity measures and outcomes measures. Our innovative software solutions enable healthcare providers to electronically screen, interview, monitor and measure outcomes for the most diagnosed adult and pediatric DSM-5 mental health disorders. The nView workflow engine uses automation to bring clarity and control to the behavioral health assessment process with evidenced-based support for clinical decisions. Learn more and schedule your demo at nView.com.