Video | 00:23:38

Conducting a Mental Status Examination

by Brad Hagen
How do you get the essential mental status information you need from patients who mistrust your intentions? Featuring two contrasting scenarios, this video offers practical and relational tools you can use to assess patients who are difficult to engage.

Part of the 5-video series: Mental Health in Hospitals and Treatment Centers

Conducting a Mental Status Examination
Conducting a mental status exam can be tougher than we think, particularly with highly defensive or even combative patients in acute distress. In order to be thorough, we must be persistent; but persistence without empathy can potentially alienate our patients. In this video, we are presented with two informative scenarios that contrast inexperienced and experienced interventions with a young woman hospitalized after a recent suicide attempt. Here, you’ll witness the palpable difference that transparent communication, assertive rapport, and humor can make in this essential therapeutic task.

In each vignette, Sue stops in to interview Kristy, a patient with Borderline Personality Disorder who wants to change doctors and leave the hospital as soon as possible to attend to her son. Nervous, stiff, and timid in the first scenario, Sue’s neophyte attempts to engage Kristy quickly fall flat. The nurse is easily steamrolled by Kristy’s anger, and her failure to adequately empathize or keep the interview on track only intensifies her patient’s distress.

The second vignette features a much more assertive, confident, and approachable Sue, who immediately takes charge while using light humor and a matter-of-fact tone to focus the conversation. Sue gives Kristy reflective statements, leverages her desire to see her son as a reason to complete the exam, and enlists her input to better understand her priorities. Though Kristy still challenges her, she is clearly more contained by Sue’s skilled interventions, opening up about her feelings and challenges and allowing Sue to offer options for social support during her recovery.

Whether done formally or informally, mental status exams uncover material necessary for successful treatment, so learning to conduct them thoroughly, even amid strong patient resistance, is crucial. If you’re looking to enhance your own skills in this area, this video is a must-watch.

Save on the complete 5-video series!
Individual License (what's this?)
(what's this?)
Add to Cart
Or save with our subscription plans. Click here for more information
Group License (what's this?)
Stream + Instructor's Manual (what's this?)
Starting at $100.00 per year
Institutional account required to purchase. Click here to sign up

Your subscription is currently suspended due to an expired or invalid credit card. Please visit your account and update your credit card info.

This stream was successfully added to your library!

This stream is already in your library.

You do not have sufficient subscription credits to add this stream.

If you wish to add this stream immediately, consider upgrading to the unlimited subscription to get immediate access to the full streaming library.

Alternatively, you may wait until you receive more stream credits next month.

This exceeds the number of videos you are allowed because you have selected a set or series. If you desperately want to watch these videos now, you can upgrade to the Unlimited Plan. Alternatively, you can select the streams of your choice by clicking on each title separately, and add more titles next month.

This license is for personal viewing only.

It is NOT intended to be:
  • viewed in a group or classroom
  • shared amongst members or clients of an organization
  • purchased by a library, school or university

For any of the uses listed above, you are REQUIRED to purchase a Group License

We reserve the right to cancel orders or terminate service if we suspect any un-authorized usage.

The Group License is appropriate for teaching, training, sharing amongst members of an organization and group viewing. Group Licenses are REQUIRED for orders from universities, colleges, clinics and all organizations and institutions. Most Group License videos come with an Instructor's Manual, which includes complete transcript, discussion questions, role-play exercises and other teaching tools.

Streams: Group Licenses include the right to use in-class or in the organization for the duration of the license purchased.

DVDs: Group Licenses include the right, in perpetuity, to use in-class or in the organization.

Save (up to 30% per CE) by purchasing the DVD and CE Credits at the same time. After placing your order, the CE test and additional reading materials, if any, will be available in your account. After viewing the DVD, you will be able to take the test at your convenience.

If you have purchased a CE package your points will be redeemed at checkout and you will be charged for the price of the DVD only. offers Continuing Education credits for most of our articles, interviews and videos, at an additional cost. We are approved for home study and online CE Credits for Psychologists, Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Social Workers and other mental health professionals Most associations and boards allow all or part of CE credits to be obtained online or in home study courses. See our CE Approvals List for the detailed list of boards and associations that have approved us.

All tests are taken online, at your own pace. All you need is to set up an account with us—don't worry, we will walk you through the process. As soon as you pass, you will be able to print your Certificate of Completion directly from your account and mail it to your board.

Please note that for CE credits associated with videos, you must purchase or have access to the corresponding video.

For more information about our Continuing Education program, read our CE Policy and FAQs.

  • View videos instantly.
  • Watch as many times as you want.
  • Create an account, add selected streams to your shopping cart and check out. You will be able to access and view your videos after completion of your order.

Please note that Individual Licenses cannot be shared with others. This restricted license does not allow for group viewing, teaching, training, or any institutional use. We reserve the right to terminate service if we suspect any unauthorized usage.

Please view our Terms and Conditions for more information.

  • Streaming allows faculty, staff and students to access our videos anywhere, anytime.
  • Institutions are required to sign a contract to access our streaming platform.
  • Pricing of video streams is based on number of users. Standard prices start at $150 per year for most videos. 3- year licenses are offered at a significant discount.
  • Surcharges will apply for large number of users and multiple locations. Very small organizations can benefit from discounted prices.
  • Institutions interested in our whole collection should contact us for special pricing.
  • On and off campus access possible via IP address or Proxy Server.

View our About Streaming page for more details.

Please Log In or Create an Account to sign up for a group streaming license.

In Depth
As video host Brad Hagen notes, most mental health practitioners at some point will need to conduct a mental status examination. Moreover, this may need to happen not just once, but continually, to monitor a patient’s ongoing mood, thought patterns, speech, communication, degree of suicidal ideation, and potential for violence, among other important factors. Thus it’s imperative for clinicians to stay focused while engaging patients as effectively as possible.

This video presents two contrasting vignettes in which a novice and an experienced nurse conduct respective mental status interviews with a suicidal hospital patient. In both cases, the patient exhibits borderline dynamics and a potentially aggressive affect, and you’ll see how the confidence, directiveness, and empathy that comes with proficiency leads to greater compliance and a sense of safety.

Although the videos in this series are designed for mental health and psychiatric nurses, the skills demonstrated apply for any mental health care worker dealing with patients with these psychiatric conditions. If you’re a therapist, counselor, psychiatric nurse, or other helping professional conducting intakes or mental status exams, this video will give you valuable takeaways you can start using today.

Note: A more formal, and thorough example of how to conduct a mental status exam is available in the video Clinical Interviewing: Intake, Assessment and Therapeutic Alliance.

By watching this video, you will:
  • Learn about the challenges of conducting thorough mental status examinations.
  • Understand how novice interventions can disrupt treatment goals and exacerbate patient distress.
  • Identify effective skills and interventions that build patient rapport and increase the likelihood of compliance.
Length of video: 00:23:38
English subtitles available on: Stream, DVD
Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-443-6
Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-443-7
Brad HagenBrad Hagen, PhD, RN, is a registered nurse, a registered psychologist, and an associate professor in the faculty of health sciences, at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, where he teaches in the nursing and addictions counseling programs. Hagen's main research and teaching interests include the broad areas of mental health, gerontology, long-term care, psychotropic drug use, and how to bring critical social theory and/or feminist approaches to these topics.

See all Brad Hagen videos.
Add your review:

Name :

To prevent automated submissions, please answer the following:
2 + 6 =