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Behavioral Health Screening Tools

Behavioral Health Screening Tools

There are a number of evidence-based, behavioral health screening tools available in the public domain for pupil services professionals to use in schools. Below are brief descriptions and links to additional information and how to access copies of the tools and the necessary accompanying materials.

The Massachusetts General Hospital Child Psychiatry Program provides information about child and mental health information, mental health in the classroom, medications, and research studies for educators at School Psychiatry for Educators. A table of screening tools and rating scales is available at School Psychiatry Table of All Screening Tools & Rating Scales covering the many kinds of mental disorders.


Adolescent Domain Screening Inventory (ADSI)
The Adolescent Domain Screening Inventory (ADSI) is a 33-item alcohol and other drug screening tool that examines four domains: community, family, individual/peer, and school.  It is self-administered in about 10 minutes. Scoring identifies youth who are at potential risk and high-risk in each of the four domains and for the total scale. Articles and additional information can be found by doing an internet search for “Adolescent Domain Screening Inventory.” 

Columbia Depression Scale (CDS)
The Columbia Depression Scale (DCS) is a 22-item self-report that screens adolescents ages 11 and older for both depression and suicide.  Questions focus on feelings & behaviors over the past four weeks. There are parallel instruments for youth and parents.  Scoring directions provide a level of risk and percentage of youth who score within each risk range.  This tool is copyrighted by Columbia Teen Screen but may be used at no cost with permission from the authors. Contact Prudence Fisher.

Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (CSSRS)
The Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale (CSSRS) can be used to screen children and adolescents (ages five years and older) for suicide risk. It is available in 103 languages. Completion of a 30-minute, on-line training is necessary to use the tool and provides a two-year certification. More information on the administration of the scale can be found on the main CSSRS website

The CRAFFT is a behavioral health screening tool for use with children and adolescents through age 20 years. The CRAFFT acronym comes from key words in each of the six questions developed to screen adolescents for high risk alcohol and other drug use disorders simultaneously. The CRAFFT is meant to assess whether a longer conversation about the context of use, frequency, and other risks and consequences of alcohol and other drug use is warranted. This tool is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Substance Abuse for use with adolescents. The CRAFFT is available in 10 languages. More information is available on the main CRAFFT website.

Depression Scale for Children (DSC)
The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (DSC) is a 20-item self-report for children and adolescents ages 6 to 17 years that screens for depression. Questions focus on feelings over the past week and the tool takes about five minutes to complete. The tool and brief instructions for scoring are available at Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale for Children (CES-DC) .

NIAAA Screening Questions for Alcohol Abuse
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers a brief, two-question screener for alcohol abuse.  An age-specific risk chart guides assignment of low, moderate or high risk. More information is available at National Institute of Health news release, "NIH releases clinician's guide for screening underage drinkers". Also available from NIAAA is the publication Alcohol Screening & Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner's Guide.

Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PSC)
The Pediatric Symptom Checklist (PCS) is a self-administered, 35-item tool used to identify cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems in children and youth ages 4-16 years of age. There are two versions: parent and child. The items on each of the checklists are parallel. The parent checklist can be administered for children as young as four years old. The youth checklist can be administered to adolescents beginning at age 11 years. The PSC is available in 16 languages. Extensive information is available at the PSC home page maintained by Massachusetts General Hospital.

Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS)
The Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS) is a self-administered, 44-item tool used to screen anxiety symptoms in school-age and preschool children for six kinds of anxiety: 1) generalized anxiety, 2) panic/agoraphobia, 3) social phobia, 4) separation anxiety, 5) obsessive/compulsive disorder, and 6) physical injury fears. There are parallel versions for children and their parents, and parents of preschool children, with the exception of the six, positively worded filler items on the child scale. The preschool version asks about traumatic events. The SCAS is available in 22 languages. Extensive information, including administration, scoring, and research articles, is available at Spence Children's Anxiety Scale - Information for Researchers and Practitioners.

Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)
The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is a self-administered behavioral questionnaire that screens children and youth ages 3-16 years using 25 items on five scales: 1) emotional problems, 2) conduct problems, 3) hyperactivity and inattention, 4) peer relationships, and 5) prosocial behaviors. There are several versions to meet the needs of researchers, clinicians, and educators. The initial administration of the tool covers the last six months, while the follow-up version asks about the last month. As such, the SDQ can be used to assess the effectiveness of interventions. The SDQ is completed by teachers and parents. A parallel version is completed by youth ages 11-16 years. There is a modified version for preschool and early childhood teachers and parents of two to four year olds. Performance is enhanced by use of multiple informants (i.e., teacher, parent, student). The SDQ has been studied extensively, has norms available from six countries, including the United States, and is available in 67 languages. Extensive information is available at Information for Researchers and Professionals about the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaires, including a description, norms, links to journal articles, tools, and scoring.