Course Overview


The Mental State Assessment (MSA) provides a structured way for health professionals to identify if a person’s mental state is deteriorating. This Course focuses on the main parts of this assessment, the manner in which it can take place, and what can be done with the assessment findings.

Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the key components of a Mental State Assessment and how they fit with physical assessment skills
  • Identify the terminology used in a Mental State Assessment
  • Identify what risks are likely being identified, and what to do if these risks increase
  • Explain the role of the Consult Liaison Psychiatry service and other mental health resources in facilitating assessment of the person with a suspected mental health disorder

Topics include:

  • Principles of the Mental State Assessment
  • Conducting the Mental State Assessment conversation
  • Risk assessment

Target audience

All health professionals working in a range of healthcare settings, but especially those working in mental health, primary practice, community health, or critical care.


Further develop skills in assessing a person’s mental state, regardless of where the person is cared for in the healthcare setting.


One in five people experience symptoms of a mental health disorder at some point in their life, so it is not uncommon for healthcare professionals to care for people experiencing mental health disorders who may also require treatment for a physical illness within a general hospital or community health setting. Healthcare professionals working in these settings therefore need to be able to undertake a basic Mental State Assessment in order to identify any risks to a person's safety (e.g. deteriorating mental state) and/or posing risks to the safety of others. The Mental State Assessment can be used to determine if immediate action is required or if assistance from a qualified mental health clinician will be necessary during, or following treatment for physical illness.

Health professionals in Australia that are registered with AHPRA are required to obtain continuing professional development (CPD) hours/points each year that relates to their context of practice, in order to comply with mandatory regulatory requirements.