Introduction:

Conducting a risk assessment for a person with a mental illness is an extremely important part of psychiatric practice, particularly if they are causing significant harm to themselves or others.

Assessing and carefully managing their state is integral to providing safe and effective care and making good decisions regarding their treatment.

In short, protecting patients and others from harm is a key priority and performing a mental health risk assessment is an essential component of providing such protection.

This checklist will guide you through all of the critical aspects of mental health issues, providing the tools to gather important data and accurately assess what needs to be done in order to help get the patient and their life back on track.

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Record basic details

Self-harm/suicide:

Learn if the patient has a history of self-harm

Ask the patient if they have a history of self-harm. 

If there is information the patient discloses (beyond a simple yes/no answer) that you think is appropriate to record, you can do so in the text form field below

Learn if the patient's family has a history of suicide or self-harm

Ask the patient if their family has a history of suicide or self-harm.

Determine if the patient has hinted at suicidal ideation

Determine if the patient has hinted to any kind of desire to commit suicide.

If they have, record their response below.

Learn if the patient has experienced any recent difficult life events

Gaining a good understanding of the patient's background is, of course, an essential component of a mental health risk assessment.

One of the most critical things to learn is if the patient has experienced any recent life events that have been particularly difficult to deal with. 

Determine if the patient is in a high level of distress

During the assessment, is it clear that the patient is in a high level of distress?

Learn if the patient is suffering from a physical illness or disability

Ask the patient if they are currently suffering from any kind of physical illness or disability. If they are, note down the details below

Learn if the patient lives alone

Ask the patient if they currently live alone (or if they will be living alone once discharged from the healthcare facility).

Ask them if they have been feeling isolated from society

Discover if the patient was recently discharged from a hospital or prison

Determine if the patient has a criminal record

Current status:

Determine if the patient is demonstrating any hostile behaviour

Determine if there is a current risk of violence

Do you think the patient currently has the potential to commit a violent act, whether it be towards himself or others? 

Determine if the patient has expressed ongoing drug or alcohol abuse

History:

Determine if the patient has a history of violence

Explore the patient's background to determine whether or not they have a history of violence.

Whilst you could just ask the question outright, this may disgruntle the patient and/or result in a false response.

Learn if the patient witnessed physical and/or emotional abuse during childhood

Abuse of all kinds during childhood is a massive contributing factor to mental health problems.

Through gentle questioning, learn if the patient has witnessed any physical and/or emotional abuse during their childhood

Learn if the patient experienced physical and/or emotional abuse during childhood

Now learn if the patient has actually experienced physical and/or emotional abuse during their childhood.

Learn if the patient has a history of harming others

Ask the patient if they have ever harmed another person for whatever reason.

Serious self-neglect:

Ask if the patient is currently homeless

Determine if the patient is subject to unacceptable living conditions

Ask the patient for details regarding their living situation and determine whether or not these conditions are acceptable.

Determine if the patient is malnourished or dehydrated

Determine if the patient has poor hygiene

Determine if the patient has poor hygiene, which is a clear sign that they are not taking proper care of themselves. 

Perhaps they have verbally expressed poor hygiene practices or it is apparent from their appearance and scent.

Determine if the patient has any untreated physical health needs

Ask the patient if they are currently suffering from any physical pain or have physical health needs that could be addressed.

Exploitation/vulnerability:

Is the patient currently, or was previously at risk of any kind of abuse

Select the kinds of abuse from the options below that the patient is currently, or was previously at risk of experiencing. 

  • 1
    Physical
  • 2
    Emotional
  • 3
    Sexual
  • 4
    Social
  • 5
    Financial
  • 6
    None

Summary:

Determine the overall likelihood to cause self-harm/harm to others

Analyze all of the information you have gathered during the assessment and determine what the overall likelihood is that the patient will cause self-harm and/or harm to others. 

Determine an overall risk rating

All things considered, determine an overall risk rating for {{form.Patient_first_name}}

Summarize degree of risk and recommendations

To conclude, summarize the degree of risk you believe {{form.Patient_first_name}} poses to themselves and others. 

Secondly, summarize what your recommendations are for the patient moving forward. 

Sources:

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