Free Mental Health Assessment Tools

Free Mental Health Assessment Tools

Health assessments are something with which most individuals are familiar. A doctor or nurse asks a series of questions concerning current and past health, as well as certain genetic health conditions of immediate family members. In mental health, similar screening tools are used frequently to help determine what, if any, conditions a patient might be suffering. These assessment tools include questionnaires, patient and family histories, written tests and other tools. Free assessment tools vary, both in scope and complexity, but are generally intended only to illustrate the possible need for further evaluation.

Making Tools Available
Universities, mental health organizations, doctors and pharmaceutical companies have helped standardize assessment tools and refine diagnostic questionnaires. As a result of standardization, many organizations have made less complicated tools available to doctors and the public. The number of websites and publications offering free mental health assessment tools continues to grow every year. Some are designed for use in clinical settings, by professionals other than doctors, such as intake workers, nurses and counselors. Other tools are designed for use by the general public to help determine if and when an individual should seek further assistance from a medical professional.

What Assessments Determine
Every assessment tool is different. Many mental health care providers offer free online assessments for common conditions, such as substance abuse, depression or anxiety. Pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer, offer online versions of commonly used general screening tools to help determine the signs of a variety of mental health conditions. For example, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) is a self-completed assessment tool with multiple parts. Each part is used to help identify different disorders or conditions, such as eating and mood disorders. With most assessment tools, the patient is asked a series of questions in a yes or no or multiple choice format. Results indicate when further testing or evaluation is warranted.

Self-Help Assessment Tools
Most easily available, free mental health assessments are intended purely for informational purposes or to help individuals see when the help of a trained professional is warranted. For example, short questionnaires for initial identification of depression are common. Likewise, there are dozens of assessment questionnaires designed to identify substance abuse and eating disorders. In short, these assessments give a patient little more than yes or no results; yes, the patient should seek medical help, or no, the patient does not meet initial criteria.

Professional Assessment Tools
Medical professionals use numerous standardized assessment and evaluation tools to diagnose mental health conditions. As information technology advances, many such tools are now available freely online, accessible by professionals and the public. Typically, these assessments are more in-depth and complex in terms of questions and test modules. Unlike self-help assessments, these tools do not immediately illustrate a simple yes or no answer. Instead, most professional-grade assessments require analysis by a trained professional to determine what the answers mean.