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Real-time assessment

Many mental disorders have a significant affective (mood) component. Mood is subject to change, and can often change quickly. One way in which you can ensure you operate safely is to conduct an assessment of a consumer's mental state while you work with them, i.e. in 'real-time'. This assessment should incorporate several key areas, including the consmer's:

- physical appearance

- mood/affect

- speech

- cognition

- content of expressed thought


The assessment of an individual's current mental state is crucial every time you engage with a consumer. Knowledge of a consumer’s baseline mental state and mood is important as this will help you to more accurately assess change.


Below you will find an encounter between you (exercise physiology student on a mental health placement) and Braith. Read the information and answer the questions below.

























Q. What would you note about Braith in a real-time assessment? There are some prompts to guide you below.


- Physical appearance:

- Mood/affect:

- Speech:

- Cognition:

- Content of expressed thought:



Q. How would you respond in this situation?


You begin a small group exercise class on a mental health ward in which Braith is participating. You assess that Braith is generally disorganized at this time, but is following direction and deemed safe to participate.


After about ten minutes, you notice that Braith is becoming distracted and seems to be responding to voices. He becomes louder and more intrusive of other consumer’s personal space. At this point, you approach Braith and ask him if he is okay. He responds by yelling "No i'm bloody not - I want a ciggarette and that music is sending me messages from the government- TURN IT OFF". 

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