One in five children meet diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder, with many of these children never receiving proper treatment (Dinkmeyer, 2013). Integrating screening for mental health and learning disorders into primary care settings has been associated with earlier identification and diagnoses, improved patient outcomes, reductions in accessibility barriers, and better treatment engagement (Albers, et al., 2007; Dvorsky, et al., 2014; Njoroge, et al., 2016).
The Pediatric Mental Health Screening Assessment is a tool to help physicians quickly and easily screen children and adolescents between the ages of 5-18 for mental health and learning disorders in order to connect them with appropriate follow-up care. This initiative, funded by The Hearst Foundations, began on Staten Island, New York, in 2016 as a collaboration between the Child Mind Institute and the Staten Island Borough President’s Office. The goal was to develop an easy-to-use tool to screen for mental health concerns in pediatric practices. As of November 2021, over 4,600 children and adolescents have been screened using this tool.
The PMHSA consists of 34 core questions from 4 validated mental health questionnaires (Pediatric Symptom Checklist, eating disorder section of the KSADS, the CRAFFT, and the PHQ-2) that uncover concerns about attention deficits, emotional problems, depressive symptoms, suicidality, eating behaviors, bullying, and substance use/abuse. Individual practices can customize the screening assessment to the needs of their practice by including assessments from a list of 20+ additional assessment options. The PMHSA is offered in English and in Spanish and is available via parent-report and child self-report (for children > 10 years).
Immediately upon completion of the screening assessment, MindLogger generates a summary report, which can be printed as a PDF or scanned into the patient’s electronic medical record (EMR). Additionally, the system sends an alert email when patients respond in a concerning way to sensitive items.
The initial version of the screener was developed for use on a tablet in office waiting rooms and used in 7 pediatric practices on Staten Island. This pilot found the PMHSA to be an effective tool for identifying children at risk of a serious mental health disorder. In February of 2022, the PMHSA transitioned to using the MindLogger platform. This transition allows for a more streamlined process, improved usability, increased customization, and an overall friendlier experience.
Albers CA, Glover TA, Kratochwill TR. Introduction to the special issue: How can universal screening enhance educational and mental health outcomes? J Sch Psychol. 2007;45(2):113-116.
Dinkmeyer S. CDC: One In Five Kids Lives With A Mental Health Issue. NAMI. Published June 18, 2013. https://www.nami.org/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2013/CDC-One-in-Five-Kids-Lives-with-a-Mental-Health-I#:~:text=Millions%20of%20American%20children%20are,it%27s%20nearly%20one%20in%20five
Dvorsky MR, Girio-Herrera E, Owens JS. School-Based Screening for Mental Health in Early Childhood. In: Weist MD, Lever NA, Bradshaw CP, Owens JS, eds. Handbook of School Mental Health: Research, Training, Practice, and Policy. Springer US; 2014:297-310.
Njoroge WFM, Hostutler CA, Schwartz BS, Mautone JA. Integrated Behavioral Health in Pediatric Primary Care. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2016;18(12):106.
Whitney DG, Peterson MD. US National and State-Level Prevalence of Mental Health Disorders and Disparities of Mental Health Care Use in Children. JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(4):389-391