The HEADS-ED is a tool that enables physicians to take a psychosocial history which aids in decisions regarding patient disposition.


Seven variables are incorporated into the use of the HEADS-ED tool:

  1. Home
  2. Education
  3. Activities and peers
  4. Drugs and alcohol
  5. Suicidality
  6. Emotions, behaviours, thought disturbance
  7. Discharge resources

These psychosocial items are used to classify patients into:

  • (0) No action needed
  • (1) Needs action but not immediate
  • (2) Needs immediate action


The HEADS-ED is a validated interview tool that makes it easy for physicians to identify children/youth with mental health issues, as well as find local help and resources.


Please click the links below to access more information on the HEADS-ED tool and research.

The HEADS-ED: A Rapid Mental Health Screening Tool for Pediatric Patients in the Emergency Department Cappelli et al, 2012 

Barriers and Facilitators to Implementing the HEADS-ED: A Rapid Screening Tool for Pediatric Patients in Emergency Departments MacWilliams et al, 2016  

The HEADS-ED: Evaluating the Clinical Use of a Brief, Action-Oriented, Pediatric Mental Health Screening Tool Cappelli et al, 2017

A Systematic Review of Instruments to Identify Mental Health and Substance Use Problems Among Children in the Emergency Department   Newton et al, 2017 

A systematic review of management strategies for children's mental health care in the emergency department: update on evidence and recommendations for clinical practice and research  Newton et al, 2017


The HEADS-ED was created by Dr. Mario Cappelli and the HEADS-ED development team: Heather Bragg, Paula Cloutier, Guy Doucet, Elizabeth Glennie, Dr. Clare Gray, Dr. Mona Jabbour, Dr. John Lyons, and Dr. Roger Zemek.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the HEADS-ED tool.