What Questions Are Asked in a Mental Health Evaluation?

A mental health evaluation usually includes verbal and written assessments given by a psychiatrist or psychologist. The purpose of the questions is to establish an overall picture of your emotional health and ability to think, reason and remember. Some people are referred for mental health treatment, and others are subjected to an assessment after they have been placed in an institution or arrested for a crime 1. For most, undergoing an evaluation can be very nerve-wracking, so it helps to have an idea of some of the questions you may be asked ahead of time.

General Interview

When undergoing a mental health evaluation, the best thing to do is to breathe and relax. Remember that there are no trick questions, and your full cooperation will provide the most accurate results. If you have been referred for a mental health evaluation, there are usually a few common initial interview questions. These may involve providing a description of the behaviors present (when they happen, how they happen and what makes them happen), a description of the symptoms, the effect the symptoms have on school, work, family, activities, relationships and involvement, family mental health history and your medical history. Questions will usually begin very broad and then scale down to more specific issues that can pinpoint an underlying condition.

Cognitive Function

A cognitive test will ask basic questions that test your ability to think, reason and remember. The doctor may ask you to state the date and time of day, to repeat a series of words, to follow directions written on a card or to count backwards from 100 by seven. The Mini Mental State Examination is one example of a basic cognitive test.


Tests for depression often include questions that you answer by rating on a scale of 0 to 3 or 4. Common questions are about mood, sleep habits, eating habits, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and obsessive compulsive symptoms. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and the Beck Depression Inventory are two examples of written evaluations for depression.