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 has compiled a list of screening tools and rating scales for a number of different symptoms and suspected conditions.
Paediatric experts were asked what screening tools and rating scales they use on a regular basis. Members of the CPS Mental Health and Development Disabilities Committee considered many different tools. Each instrument was rated on a series of criteria including:
- age range to which it applies,
- time required to complete,
- who completes the questionnaire,
- 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 rather than diagnose them. The CPS has selected tools that should be most efficient and usable for paediatricians. You may download the full list of tools, or select only those areas of most interest to you.
These provide a starting point to investigate suspected mental health conditions and help focus further assessment. They are helpful in screening for co-morbidities, but less helpful in making a diagnosis of a specific condition. Because they screen for a wide range of mental health conditions, they tend to be quite lengthy.
The tools in this section 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.
These screening tools help with diagnosis. A careful history of the symptoms and their impact on functioning must be included in any diagnostic assessment.
Additional resources from the CPS:
- Position statements and practice points from the CPS Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee
- First Years First: Tools and education based on the wealth of scientific evidence that shows early experiences have a lasting and far-reaching impact on health and development.
- Children with School Problems: Practical tools and resources that physicians can use to diagnose and treat learning problems.
Additional resources from other organizations:
- Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health: Online directory that profiles measures related to child and youth mental health and program evaluation. This online tool is free to access.
- Ementalhealth.ca: Directory of mental health services and support by community by Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, including a directory of screening tools.
- Canadian ADHD Resource Alliance: ADHD assessment forms for children and for adolescents.
If you have a screening or rating tool that you find particularly useful in your practice, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The CPS Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee will be pleased to review it.
Special thanks to Dr. Stacey Bélanger, Dr. Brenda Clark, Dr. Clare Grey, and Dr. Daphne Korczak, for their careful review of these instruments.
CPS Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee
Members: Stacey A Bélanger MD (Chair); Alice Charach, MD; Brenda Clark MD; Johanne Harvey MD (Board Representative); Daphne J Korczak MD
Liaisons: Debra Andrews MD, CPS Mental Health Section; Clare Gray MD, Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; Benjamin Klein MD, CPS Developmental Paediatrics Section
The CPS does not endorse any of these instruments.