Mental State Examination: Key Components


The mental state examination (MSE) is required in addition to any relevant physical examination.

What are the key components of the MSE?

The key components of the MSE and the factors to consider for each component are shown below:

Table 1: Key components of the MSE


Factors to consider

Appearance Dress unkempt, self-harm, physical disorder, inappropriate dress, previous deliberate self-harm

Co-operation, aggression, disinhibition, distress, preoccupations


Amount, spontaneity, volume, flow

Mood and affect

Subjective versus objective, posture, facial expression


Plans and intent

Thought form

Tangentiality, circumstantiality, associations, neologisms, flight

Thought content Worries, obsessions, delusions
Abnormal perception Hallucination and sensory modalities
Cognition Orientation, attention, memory, intelligence
Insight Patient’s understanding and expectations of their condition
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