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Unit 3 Assignment – Clinical Preparation Journal

Mental Health Exam

Mental health exam refers to the subjective description and objective assessment of a patient’s mental state and behaviors. In essence, a psychotherapist should establish a patient’s normal state, i.e., speech rate, a patient’s history, education level, social and cultural factors (Voss & Das, 2020).  However, before carrying out a mental exam on a patient, it is vital to explain the examination to the patient.

The components of a mental health examination process constitute several components; appearance, behavior, speech, mood, affect, thought process and content, cognition, and insight/judgment (Norris et al., 2016). Appearance and general behavior include a patient’s grooming, body posture, eye contact, cooperativeness, resistances, shyness, facial expression, movements, psychomotor activity, and alertness. Speech aspects include rate, volume, rhythm, volume and tone, content, coherency, and quantity, i.e., talkative, paucity, or alogia.  Mood and affect aspects include the prevalent emotional state as reported by the patient and as observed by the psychotherapist, respectively. Subjective moods are expressed as, “I am depressed, I feel fantastic, sad or angry,” while observed affect can be expressed euthymic, dysphoric, congruent, or restricted.

The thought process refers to the patient’s form and rate of thoughts and can be described as circumstantial, tangential, or loose. Contrarily, thought content refers to a patient’s thought or perpetual disturbance, e.g., illusions, delusions, or hallucinations. Cognition aspects include consciousness, attention, concentration, abstraction, and memory. A patient’s insight comprises the patient’s awareness of his/her situation/illness, while judgment refers to the patient’s ability to anticipate his/her behavior and make positive decisions against harmful consequences.

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Unit 3 Assignment - Clinical Preparation Journal
Unit 3 Assignment – Clinical Preparation Journal

A mental exam is essential because it provides the necessary information for a diagnosis, assessment of a particular disorder, and determination of a patient’s response to a treatment regimen (Soltan & Girguis, 2017). Equally, familiarity with the examination components can help physicians evaluate for and differentiate psychiatric disorders in a clinical setting. Therefore, a mental exam is crucial in aiding appropriate mental diagnosis and establishing an effective treatment intervention.


Norris, D. R., Clark, M. S., & Shipley, S. (2016). The mental status examination. American family physician94(8), 635-641. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/1015/p635.html

Soltan, M., & Girguis, J. (2017). How to approach the mental state examination. BMJ: British Medical Journal357. https://doi.org/10.1136/sbmj.j1821 

Voss, R., & Das, J. M. (2020). Mental Status Examination. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546682/

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