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Interviewing People with Mental Illness

A standard form of interview can be used for people who, as a result of the screening process, you suspect have a mental illness. There are three types of information you will need to understand the problem. This information should also suggest ways in which the person can be helped.

• Basic information on age, address, family details and employment should be collected for anyone who consults you.

• Information about the illness itself should begin with finding out about the symptoms, for example how long they have been present and how they affect the person’s life.

• Then you should ask about the person’s social situation. This should include who the person is living with and who are the main sources of social support. Questions about recent life events such as a death in the family may help explain why the person is suffering from a mental illness.

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