A Comprehensive Mental Status Examination

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A comprehensive mental status examination, namely MSE, is an assessment for mental health patients. According to Voss and Das (2021), MSE is conducted in psychiatry to evaluate the patient’s current state. The MSE was introduced to identify, assess, and control mental illness symptoms (Voss & Dass, 2021). Significantly, the mental status examination consists of seven fundamental components. Health professionals use the mnemonic ASEPTIC to remember all the components (Mental Status Exam, 2020). Hence, ASEPTIC stands for Appearance and behavior, Speech, Emotion, Perception, Through content and process, Insight and judgment, and Cognition. Consequently, the essay describes the elements of the MSE and discusses how the exam can be used to improve patients’ treatment.

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The first element characterizes the patient’s appearance and behavior and can be identified immediately. Voss and Das (2021) suggest observing such details as age, posture, clothes, grooming, and hygiene. For instance, patients may look older because of severe medical conditions, while hygiene illustrates the level of the patient’s functioning. In addition, if the person has injuries or scars, it may result from self-inflicted harm and attempts to suicide. Therefore, to assess mental health, the advanced practice nurse should primarily consider the patients’ appearance and how they act during the interview.

Consequently, based on the second MSE component, the person’s speech should be evaluated and monitored. According to the Mental Status Exam (2020), health professionals should inspect quantity descriptors, rate, tone, response latency, and fluency during the psychiatric interview. For instance, if the patient speaks less than average, they may be diagnosed with anxiety or depression (Voss & Das, 2021). On the contrary, if the patient demonstrates hyperverbal speech, it may signify maniacal behavior.

Essential to mention that the emotion component refers to mood and affect. It is possible to evaluate the current state of mind and the patient’s feelings based on the mood (Mental Status Exam, 2020). Moreover, affect assessment presents how the patients react to various situations and also describes consistency with mindset. Voss and Das (2021) suggest that if the patient smiles or laughs after experiencing a complex problem, such behavior may be considered inappropriate elated affect. Thus, congruent affect is demonstrated when the patients’ mood is excellent and they are smiling, while incongruent expression is related to disbalance in the patient’s mood and actions.

Essentially, the perception component involves auditory and visual hallucinations’ identification. During this examination stage, the practitioner evaluates if the patient has experienced various hallucinations (Voss & Das, 2021). Notably, a hallucination is defined as an unexpected perception of something when any external stimuli are absent. Therefore, an advanced practice nurse should ask and record as many details about experienced hallucinations as possible to conduct a proper analysis.

‘Through content’ element refers to examining the patient’s thoughts and ideas with the help of direct questions. For instance, the right questions may help analyze if the person is thinking about suicide, homicide, or delusions. According to Voss and Das (2021), the ‘through process’ factor is revealed by analyzing how patients express their thoughts in linear, logical, or disorganized forms. ‘Through content and process’ element may provide vital details on mental health to the nurse. Essentially, the last MSE components are insight and judgments, and cognition. For instance, patients’ insight and judgments are described by their understanding of the world around them and their illness (Mental Status Exam, 2020). Consequently, the final exam part, namely cognition, includes cognitive testing to examine attention, reasoning, concentration, and memory.


To conclude, with the help of interviews and various tests, it is possible to identify the general mental state. Thus, the mental status exam is critical in psychiatry because it helps to analyze patients’ behavior, appearance, reactions, the logic of thought, and possible hallucinations. Significantly, MSE is crucial for advanced practice nurses because it is a powerful tool to understand patients’ minds, study their ideas, and evaluate their mental health.

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Mental Status Exam. (2020). Web.

Voss, R., & Das, J. M. (2021). Mental status examination. StatPearls. Web.

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NursingBird. (2022, October 10). A Comprehensive Mental Status Examination. Retrieved from https://nursingbird.com/a-comprehensive-mental-status-examination/


NursingBird. (2022, October 10). A Comprehensive Mental Status Examination. https://nursingbird.com/a-comprehensive-mental-status-examination/

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"A Comprehensive Mental Status Examination." NursingBird, 10 Oct. 2022, nursingbird.com/a-comprehensive-mental-status-examination/.


NursingBird. (2022) 'A Comprehensive Mental Status Examination'. 10 October.


NursingBird. 2022. "A Comprehensive Mental Status Examination." October 10, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/a-comprehensive-mental-status-examination/.

1. NursingBird. "A Comprehensive Mental Status Examination." October 10, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/a-comprehensive-mental-status-examination/.


NursingBird. "A Comprehensive Mental Status Examination." October 10, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/a-comprehensive-mental-status-examination/.