Information for the public

What should happen during an assessment at mental health services?

What should happen during an assessment at mental health services?

When you first arrive at mental health services for assessment, all staff should welcome you in a warm, friendly, respectful and professional manner. The waiting room should be comfortable, clean and warm, and have a private area you can use if you are distressed, have children with you, or prefer to wait on your own. You should not have to wait for longer than 20 minutes after the agreed appointment time. If your appointment is delayed you should be told the reasons for this.

Before the assessment starts, health and social care professionals should explain what an assessment is, what happens and how long the appointment will last. They should also explain what information they may have to share with others, in what circumstances, and how they will keep the information about you safe. They should tell you that you will be asked about your life and experiences, and also that any decision about your treatment and care will be a joint one made by you and health and social care professionals. You should be advised that you can refuse permission for any other member of staff, for example a student, to be present.

During the assessment, you should be given enough time to talk about your problems, with time at the end for you to ask questions. If you are given a diagnosis, this should be clearly explained and you should be given a booklet or leaflet about it. The healthcare professional should discuss different treatments and give you information about each. You should also be offered time to talk after the assessment, especially if any sensitive issues were discussed. If you are unhappy about the assessment and diagnosis, you should be given time to talk about this and offered a second opinion.

Copies of all correspondence about your diagnosis, treatment and care between your health and social care professionals and other professionals should be sent to you, unless you decide against it. You should be told about your right to a formal community care assessment, and how you can get this. You should also be told how you can safely make a complaint.

You should not usually be assessed by more than one service unless you have a crisis.

Questions you could ask your healthcare team

  • Why am I being offered an assessment?

  • Will you tell anyone about my mental health problem?

  • Who can provide my treatment and care?

  • Are there any support organisations in my local area?

  • Have you got any information for my family or carer?

  • How can I manage my own condition?

  • Who can I contact if I need help quickly between appointments (in a crisis)?

  • Information Standard