Comprehensive Mental Status Examination


Mental status examination (MSE) refers to an organized way of studying and describing the current status of a patient’s mind. MSE provides the patient’s cross-sectional description, allowing healthcare professionals to make reliable formulations and diagnoses when incorporated with the patient’s historical and biographical information (Shim et al., 2017). These tests involve describing the patient’s general behavior and appearance, attentiveness and consciousness level, speech and motor activity, attitude and insight, mood and affect, and higher cognitive abilities.


Consciousness level refers to the patient’s wakefulness state and is dependent on cortical and brainstem components. Choudhary and Thapa (2017) explain that a healthcare provider can ask questions and determine how accurately and timely the patient answers. General behavior and appearance involve examining the patient’s physical appearance (Schmidt & Martin, 2019). For example, a physician can check whether the person’s attire matches the weather, their sitting posture or if they can maintain eye contact. Salmeron et al. (2019) explain that a physician obtains essential information from listening to spontaneous speech as patients answer open-ended questions in motor and speech activity. For example, loss of or slowness in movement might signify depression or dementia to the advanced nurse. Therefore, healthcare providers understand the patient’s condition through observation.

Affect is the immediate emotional expression of a patient, while the mood is the emotional makeup of their personality. Salmeron et al. (2019) explain that a healthcare professional identifies effect by observing the patient’s speech and reaction, such as laughing when talking about a close person’s death. Psychotic thinking can be defined as the inability to process information appropriately. Therefore, the patient’s response and perception of stimuli is a crucial psychiatric assessment (Choudhary & Thapa, 2017). Physicians often require formal mental consultation when dealing with individuals who exhibit these problems. Tsuboi et al. (2019) explain that the patient’s emotional tone towards their illness, the healthcare professional, and other individuals are defined as attitude. This can be identified by the patient being angry, passive, pessimistic, self-centered, or helpless.

Significance of MSE to the Advanced Practice Nurse

Advanced practice nurses use MSE to assess the patient’s mental or physical impairment. Salmeron et al. (2019) explain that these healthcare professionals understand individuals’ thoughts, behavior, and emotions at the observation time. As a result, the nurses understand the severity of the mental illness and determine if patients pose a risk to themselves or other people. Choudhary and Thapa (2017) explain that healthcare providers also determine the patient’s understanding of the illness and whether they are ready to get help or suffer in silence. Consciousness level helps them identify the appropriate stimulus type needed to arouse the person (Salmeron et al., 2019). Appearance and general behavior are important because healthcare professionals know whether the person is troubled by intrusive ideas or thoughts or has somatization tendencies. Therefore, the advanced practice nurse understands the best treatment method for the patient.


In summary, Mental status examination (MSE) is crucial to the patient and healthcare professionals. The tests help a physician obtain accurate state of mind results by applying different methods. These approaches include observing an individual’s looks, studying their mood and attitude toward other people and treatment, asking questions about their thoughts and perception of various situations, and determining their consciousness levels. These assessment parts make the advanced nurse knowledgeable about the effective treatment processes.


Choudhary, S., & Thapa, K. (2017). Mental status examination of borderline personality disorder. Journal of Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry, 8(2),00476. Web.

Salmeron, S., Lozoya, S., Plaza, L., Soler-Moratalla, I., Solís, J., & Abizanda, P. (2019). Validation Prognostic of the Baylor Profound Mental Status Examination. Dementia and geriatric cognitive disorders, 48(1-2), 113-122. Web.

Schmidt, J., & Martin, A. (2019). Appearance teasing and mental health: Gender differences and mediation effects of appearance-based rejection sensitivity and dysmorphic concerns. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 579. Web.

Shim, Y. S., Yang, D. W., Kim, H. J., Park, Y. H., & Kim, S. (2017). Characteristic differences in the mini-mental state examination used in Asian countries. BMC Neurology, 17(1), 1-9. Web.

Tsuboi, T., Watanabe, H., Tanaka, Y., Ohdake, R., Sato, M., Hattori, M., Kawabata, K., Hara, K., Nakatsubo, D., Maesawa, S., Kajita, Y., Katsuno, M., & Sobue, G. (2019). Clinical correlates of repetitive speech disorders in Parkinson’s disease. Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 401, 67-71. Web.

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NursingBird. 2022. "Comprehensive Mental Status Examination." September 13, 2022.

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NursingBird. "Comprehensive Mental Status Examination." September 13, 2022.