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Mental Health: Screening Tools and Rating Scales

To help paediatricians and other child health care providers recognize and diagnose mental health problems, the Canadian Paediatric Society's Mental Health Task Force has compiled a list of screening tools and rating scales for a number of different symptoms and suspected conditions.

Each instrument was rated on a series of criteria including:

  • age range to which it applies,
  • time required to complete,
  • who completes the questionnaire,
  • accuracy,
  • availability in French,
  • cost, and
  • whether the tool allows co-morbidities to be identified.

The tool(s) you choose will depend on your clinical setting, your practice support, and the nature of your patients. Some of the tools and scales are also designed to monitor certain conditions. You may view the full list of tools, or search by measure name, age group and/or condition.

All tools have been validated unless otherwise stated.

Several tools not included in the table have been developed to assist clinicians in taking a complete and organized psychosocial and/or mental health history. History-taking tools such as the SSHADESS (HEADDS) assessment tool are not to be used to develop any specific diagnosis, but rather to enhance rapport between the provider and the youth and ensure that the information gathered is relevant and complete. Others resources, like forms in Children with School Problems and the CADDRA Teacher Assessment Form, were developed to help healthcare providers (assessing children with potential mental health or learning problems) gather medical and educational information from parents/caregivers and teachers.

If you have a screening or rating tool that you find particularly useful in your practice, e-mail [email protected]. The CPS Mental Health Task Force will be pleased to review it.

The CPS does not endorse any of these instruments.

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These measures inquire about a wide range of emotional and behavioural symptoms in order for the clinician to obtain a general sense of a child or adolescent’s mental health and areas of distress. Measures in this section are not intended to map onto specific psychiatric diagnoses.

These screening measures allow paediatricians and other child health care providers to incorporate developmental surveillance and screening into regular health care visits. They can facilitate anticipatory guidance to families about supporting their child’s development. They measure general behaviour and development and provide information on functioning in multiple domains, which can alert a health care professional to a potential mental health condition.

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Last updated: Oct 3, 2022