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Mental Status Examination

Mental Status Examination

The areas of assessment from the Mental Status Examination (MSE), as noted by Corcoran and Walsh (2020), include:

The client’s general mental capacities


Reality judgment and insight


Emotions and feelings

Thought processes

Sensory perceptions

From a personal perspective, assessing these aspects of the client during an MSE is important as they provide various critical information about the mental and physical well-being of the client. First, the general mental capacity assessment is basically an assessment of the client’s real-time mental awareness and consciousness. This assessment is critical as it helps provide insights into the client’s mental health status, including their cognitive functioning. In this case, the general mental capacity assessment will help understand their orientation at the time the assessment is occurring, their physical place and environment, and their attention and concentration during the assessment. Second, the appearance is the assessment of the client’s physical appearance in terms of their clothing and general body hygiene. The appearance assessment can help understand how the client is keen on caring for themselves. Poor appearance can indicate underlying mental issues that need to be inspected and diagnosed.

Third, reality judgment and insight assessment involves the assessment of how the client interprets their reality, including their mental status, their environment, how they feel, and how they think. A reality judgment and insight assessment can provide a lot of information related to the client’s mental status that is essential for developing a diagnosis based on how the client perceives their reality and how they think, feel, see, or even touch. It can also help provide details on how the client relates their past experiences with their current view on the way they think, feel, see things, and interpret their environment. The reality judgment and insight assessment is critical during MSE as it can help determine if the client has an impaired perception or not and if they have related mental health disorders.

The fourth aspect of the MSE, speech assessment, focuses on evaluating the client’s fluency when talking, how they talk, how fast they talk, how audible and clear they are when they talk, and what they talk about. It is important to assess this area during the MSE as it can help identify changes in the client’s speech, including their speed when talking, the content of their speech, or any difficulties when they are talking. The information gained from assessing the client’s speech can determine underlying mental issues that contribute to the identified speech patterns.

Fifth, the emotions and feelings assessment involves the evaluation of the client’s emotional status and how they express their emotions and feelings. This assessment is an essential part of an MSE as it can help examine the patient’s emotions and feelings, including moods, and provide information essential for diagnosing their mental health disorder based on how the client expresses their emotions and how they feel. Sixth, the thought processes assessment is basically an assessment focused on how the client thinks and how they express what they think. This is to say that thought process assessment examines how a client organizes their thoughts and express them in a conversation during the MSE. The thought processes assessment can help relate thinking processes to related disorders.

Finally, the sensory perceptions assessment is an area that aims to determine if the client is experiencing any abnormal sensory perceptions. This may include sound or visual hallucinations or illusions. The information gained from a sensory perceptions assessment can help diagnose mental health disorders that are related to impaired or false sensory perceptions, such as psychosis and substance use disorders. All seven areas of assessment are critical as they help diagnose and plan for the client’s care, as well as help monitor how the provided care can help manage the patient’s symptoms related to their mental disorder.


Corcoran, J., & Walsh, J. (2020). Mental health in social work: A casebook on diagnosis and strengths-based assessment. Pearson Education, Inc.


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Read the Mental Status Examination (MSE) from chapter one. This is a tool for social workers to look at the quality of a client’s functioning. List all 7 areas of assessment from the Mental Status Examination (MSE) as noted in the book, then in your own words, explain what each area assesses and why you might be assessing this area. (What reason is it important to look at this area?

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What might the information we get from this area tell us?) Do not quote the textbook or another reference – explain in your own words what your understanding of each area of assessment is.

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