Importance of Mental Health Risk Assessments
A mental health risk assessment is an evaluation of an individual’s mental status. It aims to diagnose mental health conditions like anxiety, schizophrenia, and depression. GPs and health care professionals may also administer this assessment to determine whether patients are at risk of hurting themselves or others.
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Even for veteran health care professionals, dealing with patients suffering from mental health issues is never easy. Studies suggest that the emergency department staff of hospitals often feel unequipped to handle self-harming or suicidal individuals.
An effective mental health risk assessment should incorporate patience, empathy, and a genuine willingness to help. It is the first step in helping a patient get better. Mental health care plans cannot work without the patient’s active participation and willingness to get better.
Top 7 Questions to Ask When Conducting a Mental Health Risk Assessment
Here are the top 7 questions health care professionals can ask patients to encourage participation when performing a mental health risk assessment.
Click here to download free mental health risk assessment templates to document the patient’s responses to these open ended questions.
- How are you feeling?
Asking the patient an open-ended question allows them plenty of freedom to speak about what they think is the root cause of their mental health problems. This question also compels them to talk more which provides the health care professional with more information to work with. This is important in increasing the chances of an accurate diagnosis.
- How do you feel about that?
Ask this follow up question to encourage the patient to elaborate on a statement they have just made in order to discover underlying issues. The more talking the patient does, the clearer their mental status becomes to the health care professional. This also gives the health care professional the chance to observe the patient’s manner of speaking such as choice of words, phrasing, and tone to pick up clues regarding their state of mind.
- Has anything been bothering you lately?
This question compels the patient to talk about any irregularities they’ve identified in themselves. If the patient mentions any physical issues (e.g. lower back pains, headaches, chest pains, difficulty breathing) or mental issues (e.g. anxious about a particular thing or event, feeling nervous or scared for no particular reason), the health care professional should ask more probing questions.
- Can you tell me more about that?
Asking probing questions in response to a patient’s answer can help the health care professional get more information on the patient’s history and the nature of their interactions with other people.
- Why do you think that is?
For example, if a patient mentions that they get overly anxious when a loved one doesn’t respond to their text right away, asking them this probing question could reveal that a close friend of theirs had died in an accident while they were exchanging text messages.
- Is there anything you’re looking forward to?
The importance of the patient’s desire to get better cannot be overstated. This question aims to reveal the patient’s attitude towards their recovery and if feelings of hopelessness have begun to surface.
- How is your relationship with your parents?
Studies suggest that mental illness, and even substance abuse are linked to trauma experienced during childhood. Understanding a patient’s relationship with their parents is vital to identifying and ultimately addressing their mental health issues.
Digital Recordkeeping for Mental Health Risk Assessments
Keeping track of mental health risk assessment patient records can be challenging with paper-based systems. iAuditor can streamline the collection of patient records and replace paperwork with an online cloud platform. Easily customize your own mental health risk assessment templates, capture electronic signatures of patients and practitioners and easily access all patient records via an online dashboard.
To help you get started we have created these two mental health risk assessment templates you can download and customize for free: