Existential Psychiatry Blog

How to Get a Mental Health Evaluation in Seattle

July 16, 2023
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Facing mental health concerns can feel isolating. It may be especially overwhelming if you aren’t sure what’s going on. A mental health evaluation is a good first step when you’re in mental or emotional distress. With an accurate diagnosis, you can seek effective treatment and support to help you reduce distress and manage symptoms.

This comprehensive assessment (also called a psychological evaluation or mental health assessment) helps identify your mental health concerns and guide treatment options. The information gathered provides a holistic understanding of your emotional, psychological, and behavioral well-being. They're most often performed by psychiatrists, who can address or rule out physical health concerns.

32.6% of Washington residents surveyed in February 2023, reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder.

What does a mental health evaluation consist of?

A mental health evaluation is comprised of multiple evidence-based approaches, which may involve:

Written questionnaires will ask about you and your family’s physical and mental health histories. You'll be asked about your relationships, trauma, childhood, education, and employment. There will also likely be questions about stressors affecting your health and functioning.

Interview questions give the psychiatrist a better grasp of your symptom severity, duration, and frequency. These also help them understand your behavioral and cognitive functioning.

Based on your concerns, your provider may elect to use specific psychological tests. These help determine an accurate diagnosis. There are a wide variety of possible assessment tools including,

A physical exam and lab tests help rule out other health conditions. Urine and blood tests as well as CT scans can identify issues that could be causing or contributing to your symptoms. Ruling out hormone imbalances, thyroid disease, infections, autoimmune diseases, or brain structure differences helps with accurate diagnosis.

Your physician will use each aspect of the evaluation to help inform your diagnosis and guide treatment. They want a complete understanding of your history, health, concerns, environment, and relationships. This allows them to offer informed recommendations for therapy, medication, and resources.

Following the evaluation, they’ll discuss the results with you. They'll explain any diagnoses and provide treatment options tailored to your needs. During this meeting, openly communicate your concerns, ask questions, and seek clarification. This will help ensure that you understand the results and proposed treatment plan.

Where to get a mental health evaluation?

There are a few different avenues to go about receiving an evaluation in Seattle. You can request an assessment referral from your primary care physician. Their office will send you to a psychiatrist or mental health clinic. If you want to use health insurance, contact your insurance company for a list of available providers. Ask them to clarify what mental health care your policy covers. It's also a good idea to confirm whether you need a referral from your primary care physician.

If you prefer not to use your policy or don’t have health insurance, you can search online. Therapy directories, such as TherapyDen and Psychology Today, allow you to look in your area for psychiatrists providing evaluations. You can even filter your search based on your concerns, preferences, and more!

If you need financial assistance, filter your directory results for sliding-scale Seattle providers. Or, contact King County Mental Health Services. They offer a community mental health program for those who qualify. They can also connect you to other low-cost mental health providers.

Benefits of selecting a private pay psychiatrist

There are numerous upsides to electing to self-pay for mental health services. One of the biggest benefits, being you don't have to deal with insurance. Your medical information isn't sent to your insurance company. For a lot of folks, this provides peace of mind regarding fear of compromising their future health coverage.

When your psychiatrist is an out-of-network provider, they work for you, not an insurance company. This means they have a smaller caseload and more bandwidth to work on your case. They can spend more time with you during appointments and offer the most personalized care. They aren't confined to only approaches that insurance companies decide to cover.

Looking for a personalized and comprehensive mental health evaluation in Seattle? Existential Psychiatry is here to help. With over 20 years of experience in healthcare, Dr. David Zacharias strives to provide individualized psychiatric care for patients, taking into account the rich diversity of the human experience. Reach out today to schedule an appointment and we’ll begin your healing journey together.

If you’re experiencing a crisis or need more support determining how to get a mental health evaluation in Seattle, contact the King County Regional Crisis Line at 206-461-3222 or 1-866-427-4747.

Written by Existential Psychiatry Staff