Nine things to be checked for assessing mental status of a person

Normally, it is the responsibility of the registered nurse, or a certified nursing assistant as per the guidance of the RN, to assess the mental status of a person approaching the hospital or a physician for health-related problems.

A number of approaches and techniques are being adopted by the nurses or the physicians to assess the mental status of a person or a future patient, such that the reasons for the health related problems can be identified quickly. One of such approaches to assess the mental status is the Cephalocaudal approach.

According to this approach, a person is assessed for:

• Level of consciousness
• Orientation
• Behavior or mood
• Speech
• Dress worn and grooming
• Attention span or concentration
• Cognitive skills
• Memory, and
• General knowledge or level of intelligence

If a person is awake, alert, conscious, and has a reasonable knowledge about himself or herself, the environment around him or her, and responds to the external stimuli, then he or she can be assessed to be of normal state. If there is any deviation, then it would be treated as an abnormal symptom and might need further introspection.

With regard to mood or behavior, if a person is attentive as well as co-operative apart from having a pleasant appearance and tone, then that person is of normal state. If he or she displays hostility, and restlessness, and also not cooperating, then that person should be treated for abnormal mood or behavior.

If the person has a clean appearance, well-groomed and neatly dressed, then he or she would be considered normal; if the same person has body odor, nail-biting habits or is fastidious, then he or she might have to be treated for this abnormality as well.

Memory status, cognitive skills, as well as general knowledge also needs to be assessed through simple questions and the answers would provide the required status of the person in this context.

Any abnormal things noticed in any of the above nine aspects should be recorded specifically and brought to the notice of the physician for assessment.

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