The mental status examination or mental state examination (MSE) is an important part of the clinical assessment process in psychiatric and psychological practice. It is a structured way of observing and describing a patient's current state of mind, under the domains of appearance, attitude, behavior, mood, affect, speech, thought processes, thought content, perception, cognition, insight and judgment.
There are some minor variations in the subdivision of the MSE and the sequence and names of MSE domains but the purpose of every MSE is to obtain a comprehensive cross-sectional description of the person's mental state, which, when combined with biographical and historical information, allows the clinician to make an accurate diagnosis and formulation, which are required for coherent treatment planning.
Margaret J. Kay, Ed.D. Psychologist
Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP)
Licensed Psychologist in PA and DE
Fellow American College of Forensic Examiners in Educational and School Psychology
Lancaster Office Phone: (717) 569-6223
The mental status examination in psychology is the equivalent of the physical examination in general medicine. Both logically follow the taking of a history which elicits as much information as possible and prioritizes what needs to be evaluated.
A historical mental status evaluation consists of the symptom cluster descriptions relevant to mental status whereas a mental status examination elicits the physical signs of mental status.