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Tips for an Efficient Mental Health Intake

a person holds a phone at a computer while conducting an efficient mental health intake

Behavioral health issues impact each person differently and must be managed with unique strategies developed with your team and the patient. Your organization takes pride in building customized treatment plans for each and every one of your patients. In some cases, residential treatment paired with medication management may be the best course of action, while in other situations, group therapy or individual counseling session may be the best way forward. How to properly care for a patient is determined first during an efficient mental health intake. Contact Sunwave Health today online today or call us at 561.576.6037 to learn about how our behavioral health admissions tools can help you and your staff achieve efficient behavioral health intake appointments with new clients.

Tips for an Efficient Mental Health Intake

In order to find out what treatment strategy is best for your client, one of your behavioral health coordinators will ask them a variety of questions. Many will be based on demographic information to identify the providers, treatment programs, and locations that are best able to provide the appropriate care, but other questions during an efficient behavioral health intake will be more closely related to their mental health and current symptoms.

We know that the first meeting your team has with a client can be quite overwhelming for them and you. There is a finite amount of time, usually just 60 minutes, to obtain all of the information you need to develop a mental health treatment plan. This can be challenging and sometimes even feel impossible. This is why an efficient mental health intake is so important. You need all of the information possible to provide the correct therapy, medication, and treatment, and the patient needs to feel seen and heard. That’s a lot to get out of one intake meeting, but being efficient can make it an achievable goal.

Orient Your Client

Seeking behavioral health services can be intimidating and bring about high levels of anxiety for many clients who are already struggling with their mental health. Similarly, if you have new staff conducting mental health intakes, they too may feel intimated by clinical work. It is not uncommon for a portion of the client’s discomfort to be transferred to the therapist, making the appointment less than optimal for all involved.

However, when you work to orient the client to the intake process, you can help reduce their anxiety about what they should expect to hear, say, and think about throughout the intake appointment. Your team members benefit from this orientation too. They will be reminded of their agenda, and this will reduce any discomfort they may be feeling as the intake meeting begins. Orienting a patient to the intake process can assist in developing a friendly rapport by making the client feel more comfortable and relaxed.

Focus on the Purpose of the Intake

It’s possible to want to learn everything about a new patient during the intake appointment. However, it is important to shift your conceptualization of an intake early on by focusing on its primary function. The mental health intake is designed to obtain information regarding a client’s current concerns and symptoms, as well as to obtain foundational background information to aid in providing an accurate diagnosis.

Accurately diagnosing your clients is important for a variety of reasons, but especially important in terms of billing insurance and informing their treatment plan. An efficient behavioral health intake will stay focused on obtaining only the information necessary to arrive at an accurate diagnosis and begin to inform your organization’s approach to the patient’s best course of treatment.

Prioritize the Information Needed

While it is necessary to obtain background information about a client during the intake appointment, it can be difficult to know which background information is needed during this first meeting. Striking a balance between obtaining too much or too little background information in the first appointment will help you have an efficient mental health intake.

Generally speaking, focus on the following when conducting a mental health intake:

  • Present concern
  • Current symptoms
  • Suicide/safety assessment
  • Trauma history
  • Treatment history
  • Medical history

These areas of discussion will also overlap with insurance requirements for documentation purposes.

Learn More at Sunwave Health

Sunwave Health’s behavioral health admissions tools can help your team conduct efficient mental health intake appointments more frequently. Call us 561.576.6037 or reach out online to learn how our infrastructure sets us apart to drive healthy results for healthcare providers and patients.