Pediatricians and other primary care physicians often find screening tools valuable when asked to see a child or a teen for a primary mental health concern. Here’s a listing of useful rating scales and instruments available in the public domain for pediatric practices caring for kids with significant mental health conditions. For a more complete listing of rating scales, download this guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Parent Rating Scale (VADPRS) and Vanderbilt ADHD Diagnostic Teacher Rating Scale (VADTRS): Elicits symptoms in domains of inattention, disruptive behavior, anxiety, and depression; separate scale assesses functioning in the area of school performance.
- Parent scale (full)
- Parent scale (follow-up)
- Teacher scale (full)
- Teacher scale (follow-up)
- Scoring instructions
SNAP-IV: The SNAP-IV is a revision of the Swanson, Nolan, and Pelham (SNAP) Questionnaire; derived from the Conners index. It elicits symptoms of ADHD and other DSM-IV disorders that may overlap with or masquerade as ADHD. Scoring is described at the bottom of the instrument. Download.
Self-report for Childhood-Related Anxiety Disorders (SCARED): The SCARED is an easy to complete rating scale useful in evaluating symptoms of anxiety, but not PTSD or OCD in kids ages 8 and up. Scoring is described on the instrument.
GAD-7: The GAD-7 is a brief, self-report scale used in primary care practices to screen for seven key symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Scores of 10 or higher suggest the need for more detailed evaluation. Download
Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS): The YMRS is an 11-item, parent-completed rating scale used by pediatricians to determine whether children and teens in whom a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is suspected need to be referred to a mental health professional for further assessment. It is also used to monitor response to treatment. Scores of 14 or higher are indicative of a possible hypomania or mania, while scores of 22 or higher have been shown to be indicative of a probable hypomania or mania.
Columbia Depression Scale: The Columbia Depression Scale is a 22-item screening tool for depression in children ages 11 and up. Separate parent versions are available for use with male and female children. Scores of 12-15 “YES” items (item #22 is not scored) indicate that depression is “likely,” while scores of 16 and above suggest depression is “highly likely.” Download.
PHQ-9: The PHQ offers a teen version of a tool used for depression screening in adults.
Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC): The CES-DC is a 20 item screening instrument for use in children 6 and above. Scoring instructions are described on the rating scale. Download
Disruptive behavior disorders:
Disruptive Behavior Disorders Rating Scale: This is a 45-item rating scale completed by parents or teachers that assesses domains of oppositional/defiant behaviors, inattention, and impulsivity/overactivity. Scoring is described on the instrument. Download.
Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Survey (Y-BOCS): The children’s version of the Y-BOCS, or the Children’s Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scales (CY-BOCS), is a clinician-report questionnaire designed to assess symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder from childhood through early adolescence. Clinicians often give versions of the CY-BOCS (specifically, the symptom checklists) to parents and children as a screening tool, or to measure response to treatment, although the self-administered versions have never been validated.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
Child PTSD Symptom Scale (CPSS): The CPSS is used to measure post traumatic stress disorder severity in children aged 8-18. It may be used as either a self-report or as a clinician-administered interview.
Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS): The BPRS is a clinician-rated instrument available in 9- and 21 item versions and is used with patients with serious psychiatric illness. The 9-item BPRS-C is available here for download. Familiarity with the training manual is strongly encouraged. The 21-item BPRS-C is included in the training manual.
Side Effect Monitoring
Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS): Children, teens and adults taking any kind of antipsychotic medication need to be monitored for movement disorders. The AIMS (Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale) aids in the early detection of tardive dyskinesia as well as providing a method for ongoing monitoring. Download.
CRAFFT: The CRAFFT is a behavioral health screening tool for use with children under the age of 21. It consists of a series of 6 questions developed to screen adolescents for high risk alcohol and other drug use disorders simultaneously to assess whether a longer conversation about consequences of alcohol and other drug use is warranted. Download.
Suicide Risk Assessment
ASK: The Ask Suicide Screening Questionnaire is a 4-item instrument developed to assess suicide risk in pediatric emergency settings. One or more positive responses indicates the need for further evaluation or mental health referral. Download.
Yale Child Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS): The YGTSS is a commonly used measure to document the severity of motor and phonic tics. It is performed by a clinician interview. The clinician reviews a list of possible tics that may have occurred over the past week, first motor and then vocal tics. Scores close to zero suggest that tics have little or no impact on a child’s life, while scores closer to 50 on the subscales for vocal or motor tics indicate that the child’s tics are associated with marked disability. Download.