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Mental Health Screening — The Science Behind Mooditude

By: Mooditude

12 min read

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Mental Health Test
A mental health screening or test is an assessment conducted by a professional to evaluate your emotional and psychological health status—this article highlight different available tests and how Mooditude uses them to create a self-care plan for you.

Psychological issues can often go undetected due to poor testing facilities and stigma, but most importantly due to a lack of understanding of available mental health tests and treatments. A mental health screening is essential for an individual to maintain and keep his/her mental wellbeing in check.

A mental health screening is an assessment conducted by a professional to evaluate the status of your emotional and psychological health by testing you for the presence of certain symptoms associated with different mental disorders. Mental health experts advocate for and encourage regular mental health assessments and are certain of the several benefits they present, major ones including early diagnosis and prompt treatment.

This article is a comprehensive guide to information about the viability and validity of mental health screenings, especially the M3 assessment tool, the primary foundation on which Mooditude is based. This article will include the following topics:

  • What is Psychological Testing or Mental Health Screening?
  • Purpose of Psychological Testing
  • How Does Psychological Testing Work?
  • What Disorders can be Identified Through Psychological Assessment?
  • Types of Mental Health Tests
  • About Mooditude Assessment: Who Should Use It?
  • The Clinical Perspective Regarding the Use of the Assessment
  • How is the Assessment used at Mooditude?
  • Mental Health Test vs. Mood Tracking

What is Mental Health Screening?

Much like a physical examination, a mental health screening is conducted by mental health professionals to help determine if you may be suffering from a mental health disorder.

In the United States, mental health disorders are common, with nearly 1 in every 5 adults reported to be suffering from a moderate to severe mental illness. Unfortunately, due to multiple reasons, several people still live with undiagnosed mental health conditions while some have no access to treatments, tests, and screening. More than 50 percent of US citizens suffering from mental illness do not receive treatment.

Once examined, upon detection of symptoms related to a mental disorder, a screening allows the professionals to determine the best route of treatment suitable for your condition. Early identification does not only lead to better outcomes, it also minimizes the risk of long-term disability.

Purpose of Psychological Testing

Having questions about the benefits, validity, and purpose of psychological testing is common when you or someone you know has been referred to get tested. It may sound intimidating but its benefits are manifold. Unlike physical treatments, the best way to deal with mental disorders is by tailoring special treatment plans most relevant to each individual’s condition. Mental health assessments make this possible by conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the individual’s current mental abilities including cognition, learning, perception, thinking, and more.

The major benefits and purposes of mental health assessments or psychological testing are discussed below.

Early Diagnosis

Mental health screenings aid in early diagnosis and save individuals from enormous amounts of difficulty and suffering. A large number of people suffer years of pain and worry either because they refuse to get a screening or fail to find competent professionals that would advise them to do so.

Mental Health America (MHA) believes mental health evaluations are as necessary as screenings conducted for physical health conditions.

… MHA supports universal screening for potential mental health problems for the same reasons and in the same settings that screening has long been mandated for potential physical health problems, like vision and hearing.

Primary health care providers, after ruling out physical ailments, through psychological screening, can gauge your mood, behavior, and feelings, allowing them to determine the best course of treatment for your particular condition as early as possible. Early detection is important because it can save an individual a lot of energy, suffering, confusion, and debilitating pain, along with minimizing the risk of developing long-term disabilities.

Assists in Understanding Current Mental Status

Since psychological assessments involve extensive cross-questioning regarding one’s emotional, spiritual, and cognitive presence and several kinds of tests to determine your state of mind through assessing your motor skills, level of consciousness, attitude, insight, perception and thought, speech, and general behavior, they allow your mental healthcare provider to assess your current mental status.

This can assist healthcare providers to narrow down the list of disorders your symptoms may be indicated as well as help them distinguish between thought, mood, or cognitive impairment. A complete understanding of a patient’s current mental state can guide them to refer them further to a psychiatrist.

An understanding of your current state of mind can also be beneficial for yourself in the meantime as you learn to cope with your situation on your own.

Progress Tracking

Progress tracking is perhaps one of the most useful components of psychological screening. After multiple sessions of psyche evaluation, it is easier for your primary care provider to keep track of how your symptoms are adjusting with time and treatment and if the treatment plan chosen for you is delivering positive results or not.

One way psychiatrists and mental health professionals monitor your progress is by keeping track of the intensity, frequency, and duration of your symptoms as they alter with treatment. Another common way this is done is through assessing the achievement of goals and objectives in a certain time period.

Research suggests that tracking client progress can improve treatment outcomes. Through mental health assessments, client progress can be updated with each session and treatment can be modified accordingly.

How Does Psychological Testing Work?

Mental health assessments function the same way that medical tests do when you present with a symptom. Blood tests, MRIs, scans, X-rays are prescribed by the health care provider in order to rule out diseases that demonstrate similar symptoms but are found to be negative in medical tests. This aids in diagnosis and subsequently in devising treatment methods and executing them.

Psychological tests utilize various tools and assessment questions to rule out and diagnose individuals with whatever disorder they may be suffering from. For example, emotional efficiency tests may help psychologists determine an individual’s capacity to manage, identify, and deal with their emotions. They may help in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, conduct disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), etc.

Similarly, neuropsychological testing may be conducted to assess an individual’s brain functioning by testing abilities such as reading, learning, memory, problem-solving, mood, personality, etc.

Once sufficient data is gathered, it is easier to identify challenges, areas that require special attention as well as areas of strength to ensure that treatment is smoothly carried out.

What Disorders can be Identified Through Psychological Assessment?

A mental health assessment gives your psychiatrist a complete picture of your mental and emotional state. It gives them insight into your cognitive functioning to determine future treatment plans. A mental health screening can be used to identify several mental disorders, including:

  • Mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder can be identified through an assessment of your overall state of mind, feelings, thoughts, and behavior.
  • A mental health assessment can aid in the identification of learning difficulties, conduct disorders, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children.
  • Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, selective mutism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), separation anxiety, etc. can be recognized by testing for anxiety-related symptoms.
  • Schizophrenia, delusional disorder, paraphrenia, and substance-induced psychotic disorder may also be identified through a psych evaluation along with a physical exam.
  • Eating disorders like binge eating, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and selective eating disorders can be identified through psychological evaluations and mental health screening tools like eating disorder inventory, SCOFF questionnaire, etc.
  • An individual can be assessed for substance abuse or misuse disorders through a psych evaluation.
  • Cognitive impairments such as dementia, amnesia, delirium, dyslexia, and autism can be detected through psychiatric cognitive assessments.

Types of Mental Health Tests

There are several types of mental health tests and screening tools available. Primary care providers are well-versed in which assessment to conduct for specific symptoms. Among the most commonly used screening tools are Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ9), Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), M3 Checklist, and more.

Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9)

The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 is a variant of its much more comprehensive and detailed original type, the PHQ assessment, that addresses other mental health concerns as well. PHQ-9 is brief and can be self-administered. It is used to measure and assess the severity of depression and depressive symptoms. According to the NCBI.

The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) is a self-administered version of the PRIME-MD diagnostic instrument for common mental disorders. The PHQ-9 is the depression module, which scores each of the 9 DSM-IV criteria as “0” (not at all) to “3” (nearly every day)

NCBI

The PHQ-9 assessment consists of 9 questions with four options to choose an answer from: Not at all, several days, more than half of the days, and nearly every day. A score ranging from 0-4 indicates a normal mental state, 5-9 indicates mild depression, 10-14 indicates moderate depression and 15-20 indicates moderately severe depression. A score of above 20 indicates that you have severe depression.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7)

A 7-item assessment tool used for measuring the severity of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), consists of seven questions. It is brief and can be self-administered as well as conducted in clinical settings.

Responses to the seven questions can be chosen from the four options available: Not at all, several days, more than half of the days, and nearly every day. Scoring works similar to the PHQ-9 assessment with a score ranging from 0-4 representing mild anxiety, 5-9 representing moderate anxiety, 10-14 representing moderately severe anxiety, and a score ranging from 15-21 representing severe anxiety. A score of >10 is a cause for concern and should be followed by further investigation for diagnosing GAD.

Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)

According to the American Psychological Association, ‘Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) is a 21-item, self-report rating inventory that measures characteristic attitudes and symptoms of depression.’ Each question can be answered from the four possible responses that differ in intensity, for example, I do not feel sad, I feel sad, I am sad all the time and I can’t snap out of it, or I am so sad or unhappy that I can’t stand it.

The final score is analyzed to determine the severity of depression in an individual. A score ranging from 0-9 implies minimal depression, 10-18 implies mild depression, 19-29 implies moderate depression, and 30-63 indicates severe depression.

M3 Checklist – Mooditude Assessment Tool

Recognized nationwide, peer-reviewed, and validated through clinical trials, the M3 assessment tool used on the Mooditude app comprises 27 questions that can detect common mental health concerns. This assessment tool is user-friendly, can be interpreted immediately, and can also be used for tracking symptoms. This tool has a range of 0-108 points and a symptomatic threshold set at 32 points.

This quick 3-5 minute assessment can help your doctor detect common symptoms related to multiple mental health disorders, also evaluate your risk rating, and provide recommendations for further treatment. Get your mental assessment report for free here.

M3 Checklist

The M3 checklist is a mental health assessment tool designed to identify multiple mental health disorders through a brief, 3-5 minute test. The M3 Checklist can recognize symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder. Once the assessment is taken, the report shows results in the form of a numeric value that can be interpreted by the clinician or healthcare provider and help them tailor and modify interventions and treatment plans accordingly through measurement-based care. Through patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), clinicians ensure to maintain the quality of treatment and improve communication to allow a better understanding of the patient’s condition, all while keeping track through remote patient monitoring.

The M3 Checklist is advised to anyone who may be complaining of experiencing depressive symptoms; that is unusual irritability, outbursts, loss of interest, excessive sadness; symptoms of anxiety such as restlessness, lack of concentration, fatigue, sleep problems, symptoms of bipolar disorder, PTSD, suicidality, functional impairment, or substance use disorders.

The M3 Checklist can be used by primary care practitioners, mental health professionals, federally qualified health centers, behavioral health clinics, and more. Assess and receive your mental assessment report for free here.

The Science Behind M3 Checklist

The M3 Checklist gives a comprehensive report of a patient’s overall mental health burden and risk of developing a disorder or multiple disorders. Clinicians prefer the M3 Checklist assessment due to its advantage over other available testing methods. While screening tools that are commonly in practice are very accurate in identifying one mental illness — usually symptoms of depression and their severity — they fail to recognize risks of developing other mental illnesses as well, consequently resulting in misdiagnosis.

According to statistics, more than 50 million people in the United States suffer from some form of mental illness, out of which over 50 percent of them fail to receive treatment. A report showing prevalence by condition indicates an estimate of 21 million adults in the US suffer from Major Depressive Episode (8.4%), 48 million people live with a form of an anxiety disorder (19.1%), an estimated 7 million people are diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and PTSD impacts nearly 9 million people in the US.

The prevalence of anxiety disorders far outnumbers the prevalence of depression among US adults. Since commonly used assessment methods test exclusively for only one disorder, other possible mental health concerns are often overlooked, resulting in harmful or ineffective interventions and treatments.

Clinicians and mental health professionals acknowledge the broad-spectrum validity and viability of the M3 Checklist mental health assessment since it can detect comorbidities and aid in devising intervention plans accordingly to deal with multiple conditions at the same time.

Mooditude & M3 Checklist

Mooditude mental health assessment is based on the M3 Checklist. The M3 Checklist effectively measures the “pulse” of your mental well-being, by surveying for common symptoms relating to depression, bipolar, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorders. Alcohol and substance use and social, school & work functioning are also assessed. The results provide a set of mental health vital signs that can be tracked over time to measure progress and to help secure a positive quality of life.

Mooditude employs the M3 Checklist assessment tool due to its ability to detect a broad range of disorders and increased viability as compared to other screening tools. Mooditude uses the M3 assessment tool and test results in the following ways:

  • Diagnosis: The M3 Checklist test can be taken online here. The test comprises 27 multiple-choice questions. You respond with the most relatable answer out of the five choices available. The response should conform to the severity of your symptoms over the past 2 weeks. You will then receive a report of your mental status with a diagnosis and a position of your risk for mental illness as none, low, medium, or high.
  • Personalized Planning: Mooditude offers personalized activity plans to assist you in maintaining and improving your mental health.
  • Progress Tracking: Once registered on mooditude as a user, you can take an M3 assessment as many times as you want. It is preferable to take the test once every month if you are at low risk. Keeping track can help you ensure your treatment plan is working.
  • Find the Right Therapist: If your report shows you’re at high-risk, mooditude can help you find the right therapist who can provide measurement-based care to you according to your condition.

Mental Health Test vs. Mood Tracking

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mood disorders impact an estimated 9.7% of American adults in a given year, with the female population at a higher risk than the male. Mood disorders can have debilitating effects on a person’s emotional stability and can impair cognitive function.

Mood tracking is an effective way to combat this problem. Several mood tracking facilities are available on mental health mobile apps. Limited research shows that mood tracking apps can be used as effective intervention tools in the mental health sector. Additionally, it can help patients acknowledge and identify their condition, allowing them to monitor their progress, consequently empowering them to take control of their mental well-being.

Mental health tests and mood tracking can be administered side by side. Consultation with a practitioner can ensure significantly better results.

Conclusion

Mental health assessment tools are available to ensure prompt and accurate treatment of mental health conditions that usually go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed amongst the general population, causing extreme suffering and functional impairment. Conducting clinically validated and peer-reviewed mental health tests regularly are ubiquitously recommended by psychological experts due to their ability to detect the onset of mental illnesses earlier, allowing clinicians to tailor unique intervention methods according to individual needs.

The viability and validity of the M3 Checklist – Mooditude Mental Health Assessment t is backed up by clinicians because this short self-assessment can detect a wide range of mental health concerns as compared to other tests that merely test for one disorder, often resulting in overseeing other mental illnesses and wrong treatment plan. Mooditude offers mental health assessments, personalized activity plans, and mood tracking facilities to ensure the quality of your mental health.

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