All about the HEADS-ED for primary care

Walking the path: An applied research pilot project is based on the findings and recommendations of the Centre’s policy-ready paper Paving the path to connected care. Specifically, the pilot is working with East Metro Youth Services in Toronto and Algoma Family Services in Sault Ste. Marie to:

  1. Create organizational structures and practices that support inter-provider communication
  2. Develop guidelines and standardized clinical pathways
  3. Integrate standardized tools in primary care practices

In moving forward with these recommendations, the HEADS-ED for primary care will be implemented within each pilot site/community to support the implementation of clinical and service pathways.

So, what is the HEADS-ED?

The HEADS-ED is a brief mental health screening tool designed to help physicians obtain a psychosocial history to aid in making decisions regarding patient disposition (e.g., admission, discharge, or requesting specialized mental health consultation).  Seven items representing specific components of the patient history are included (Home, Education, Activities & peers, Drugs & Alcohol, Suicidality, Emotions & behaviours, and Discharge resources).  Each item is rated according to three action levels: No action needed, Needs action but not immediate, and Needs immediate action.

The HEADS-ED can be used to guide the psychosocial assessment and can be completed within a few minutes by a health care practitioner (physician or nurse) or allied health professional (crisis worker, school counselor) following the assessment. Updated versions of the paper and pencil and online versions will soon be available.

The HEADS-ED was initially developed for use with children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 18 years presenting to the ED for mental health care. Its use has expanded to school boards and mental health centralized intake services, and for children 0 - 5 years.

For more information, visit HEADS-ED.