If you or someone you know is involved in legal proceedings, navigating the mental health evaluation journey can be difficult.

These court-ordered assessments are often a precautionary last step in the legal process. Obtaining more information about a person’s mental health can help the court decide whether a case can continue or if the litigant is okay to continue with legal action. Recommendations in the assessment may even help an individual gain a more successful court outcome.

If you’re ready to get started, here are some key details you need to know on how to get a court-ordered mental health evaluation.

What Is A Court-Ordered Mental Health Evaluation? 

A court-ordered mental health evaluation or assessment is a process in which a professional evaluator produces a report for those involved in court cases. 

To craft this report, the evaluator will ask questions about your history, family, physical and mental health, occupation, and more. 

The assessments should be done by specially trained mental health professionals. These professionals will provide accurate and unbiased reports.


Why Should You Get a Court-Ordered Mental Health Assessment? 

Those who request an assessment include prosecutors, defense attorneys, plaintiff’s counsel, and judges. Thus, obtaining a court-ordered assessment helps you remain compliant with the court, and the details in your report may benefit you in the case process and outcome.

When Can You Get A Mental Health Assessment? 

The court must order mental health evaluations if it decides a person’s mental health is relevant to the case. Juvenile courts may also order an evaluation to assess what the best course of action would be for a minor.

Where Can I Go for a Court-Ordered Mental Health Evaluation? 

You can go to any court assessment provider for your mental health evaluation. It’s essential to do your research to ensure the evaluation produced by the provider is valid and accepted by the court. Mental health assessments at New Directions have been accepted in all 50 states.

Some providers may even offer virtual assessments to make the process more convenient.

What Are the Benefits of Virtual Mental Health Assessments?

Doing a mental health assessment virtual is an easy method to obtain your assessment professionally and efficiently.

Depending on the evaluation provider you partner with, you will be asked questions via: 

  • A questionnaire form completed virtual (10-20 minutes)
  • A phone or video interview where the evaluators will ask follow-up questions based on your questionnaire answers (40-50 minutes)

Learn how a mental health assessment works

What Are the Different Types of Mental Health Assessments?

There are three different types of assessments:

  1. An independent evaluation: Conducted by a mental health professional who provides a detailed analysis of the individual in question.
  2. A psychological evaluation: A psychologist examines an individual and produces a report that includes an overview of their psychological condition. This may also include administering one or more psychological tests.
  3. A psychiatric evaluation: A psychiatrist provides an analysis of one’s psychiatric condition via one or more psychiatric tests. 

How To Prepare For A Court-Ordered Mental Health Assessment 

It’s best to come prepared to answer the evaluator’s questions to the best of your ability.

The evaluator will ask questions regarding your: 

  • History
  • Family of origin
  • Overall physical and mental health
  • Occupation
  • Relationships
  • Hobbies
  • Overall satisfaction with your life


Confer With Your Lawyer

The first step in getting a court-ordered assessment is to confer with your lawyer about your legal options.

If you do not have a lawyer, you should one who understands the details of state mental health laws and can help you navigate requesting an assessment through the courts.

Your lawyer may suggest filing a motion for an evaluation on your own or ask that they file it on your behalf.

Provide Evidence

The first step is to provide evidence. If you have been ordered by the court to attend a psychological evaluation, the court will likely request specific documentation be sent to the psychologist ahead of time.

This could include:

  • Court pleadings

  • Letters or emails between you and your attorney

  • Deposition testimony

  • A history of any criminal convictions or restraining orders

You will also be asked to complete a psychological questionnaire.

This will help the psychologist get to know you better and will also provide background information.

The psychologist will likely ask about your childhood, education, work history, relationships, and any substance abuse or mental health problems you have had in the past.


Evaluations And Recommendations

After reviewing your evidence and questionnaire, the psychologist will complete an evaluation.

This will include a clinical interview, psychological testing, and a review of your records.

The psychologist will then make recommendations to the court.

These recommendations could include:

  • Whether you are competent to stand trial

  • Whether you are a danger to yourself or others

  • Whether you are likely to succeed on probation or parole

  • What kind of treatment you need

The psychologist may also be asked to testify in court about their findings.

If you have been ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation, it is important to take the process seriously. The evaluation can have a significant impact on your case. If you have any questions about the evaluation process, you should talk to your attorney.

Can A Court-Ordered Assessment Save Someone’s Life? 

In some cases, a court-ordered assessment can help save the life of a person struggling with a mental illness. The assessment provides an objective evaluation of a person’s symptoms and functioning, which can be invaluable in determining an appropriate treatment plan.


Get Connected with a Qualified Mental Health Evaluator

If you’ve been requested to obtain a court-ordered mental health evaluation, getting it may be the first step towards accessing the help and support you need.

With proper guidance from mental health professionals, individuals can regain control of their lives. Get started on your personalized assessment from our team of qualified evaluators.