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A mental health evaluation gives a doctor, counselor, psychologist or other licensed professional a picture of the way a person feels, reasons, thinks and remembers. Through a series of questions and physical tests, a professional can diagnose a number of mental disorders.

Some mental disorders an evaluation may help diagnose include:

          • Depression and mood disorders
          • Anxiety disorders
          • Eating disorders
          • Attention Deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
          • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
          • Substance abuse and addictive disorders
          • Bipolar disorder
          • Schizophrenia and psychotic disorders

In addition to determining if a person suffers from a mental condition, the evaluation can help determine whether a person has co-occurring substance use disorder. 

People shouldn’t be nervous about a mental health evaluation. Evaluations can help professionals understand an individual’s mental health needs and determine a treatment plan.


Nothing special is required to prepare for an evaluation. However, it is a good idea to think about the reasons for the assessment. Writing in a journal about thoughts and feelings in the days and weeks before the evaluation appointment may also help.

Some things to think about include:

          • Mental health symptoms
          • Troubling thoughts and behaviors
          • Events that may make the symptoms worse
          • How long the symptoms last
          • How often the symptoms occur

It is also important to think about what the goals and expectations of therapy are. If there are substance abuse issues, make a list of all prescription or street drugs and substances. You don’t have to attend an evaluation alone. Take a friend or family member for company and support if necessary.