Questions to Ask During A Mental Health Evaluation

If you are seeking a mental health evaluation of your child or family member, be prepared by writing down detailed information about your observations (ex: types of behaviors, frequency of the behaviors, triggers, changes in sleep/eating habits or social relationships, etc).  The more details you provide the better.

Try to research information about the evaluating doctor (ex: his/her education and licenses, training or specializations, # of cases in which he/she has been involved with respect to the specific disorder you suspect your child or family member to have, etc).  This way, you have assurance that you will be dealing with someone who is experienced and trained as opposed to taking someone else’s word about the doctor’s qualifications.

Before the evaluation, it is important to write down all of the questions you want answered.  You have a right to know this information because it is about your child or family member’s health and you will need it to make well-informed decisions later on.  So don’t be afraid to ask anything and everything that is on your mind, even if you think it’s “dumb”.  The evaluation process is a time-consuming and emotional one leaving many overwhelmed at the end.  I know and I was glad I came prepared with my questions.

At the evaluation, write down or ask:

    • what specifically will take place during the evaluation
      • feel free to ask any questions about it before it actually starts
    • the doctor questions about his/her qualifications
    • the name of the diagnosis(es); have the doctor spell it out if needed
    • the doctor to explain what the diagnosis(es) means in plain English
      • what are the possible causes?
    • any medicines, treatments or tests recommended
      • why is it recommended?
      • how will it help?
      • what are the side effects?
      • what are possible outcomes from the tests recommended?  What would those outcomes mean for your child or family member?
      • what should be expected if your child or family member does not take the medications or have the tests recommended?
      • are there alternatives to those recommended?  How will those help?  What are their side effects?
    • any instructions your provider gives you for your child or family member

If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time and purpose for that visit.  Understand what every appointment is for.  Ask the evaluating doctor if he/she is available after hours to answer additional questions and how best to contact him/her.  Finally, make sure you have a hard-copy of the evaluation before you leave.  This evaluation is critical to have on-hand should you move forward with school districts in implementing an educational plan that takes into account your child or family member’s diagnosis.

Hopefully the tips provided are helpful so that you can go into an evaluation with a clear path and leave assured that you have sufficient information to take the best next steps possible.  For your convenience, below is a PDF of this post so you can print & take it with you.  Good luck.

Questions to Ask During A Mental Health Evaluation

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