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Community Healthcare Workers

Community Healthcare Workers

Don’t Miss a Vital Sign

This information is designed to provide healthcare workers tools to recognize symptoms of mental health disorders in their patients.

Regardless of our specialty, as healthcare workers we all want to reduce suffering and improve our patients’ overall health.

On the Resources page, you’ll find tips for talking with patients about their concerns, information on recognizing warning signs of mental illness, helpful fact sheets, and a host of other resources to provide patients the guidance they need.


Screening Tools

PHQ Screening Tools

Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) is a diagnostic tool for mental health disorders used by health care professionals that is quick and easy for patients to complete. It contains the mood (PHQ-9), anxiety, alcohol, eating, and somatoform modules. The GAD-7 was subsequently developed as a brief scale for anxiety.
All PHQ, GAD-7 screeners and translations in a multitude of languages are downloadable from this website and no permission is required to reproduce, translate, display or distribute them. Relevant articles and a bibliography are also freely available.

Quick Links:
PHQ9-English (PDF)
PHQ9-Spanish (PDF)
GAD-7-English (PDF)
GAD-7-Spanish (PDF)
Other Languages

Geriatric Depression Scale

This scale was developed as a basic screening measure to detect depression in older adults. The website provides literature references, the screening tool in a variety of different languages, and a scoring form. A free iPhone APP and ANDROID APP are available for download. In addition, they offer a page that allows primary care providers to do the 15-item GDS on the screen and copy the results into their records.

Quick Links:
Short Form English
Short Form English Scoring
Long Form English with Scoring
Other Languages

Adolescent Screening

The PHQ-9 for Adolescents and the Pediatric Symptom Checklist are provided below.

Quick Links:
PHQ-9 for Adolescents (PDF)
PSC-Y for Adolescents (PDF)

Alcohol Abuse Screening

The manual “Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention: A Guide for Public Health Practitioners” provides the information, skills and tools needed to conduct screening and brief intervention (SBI) to help at-risk drinkers reduce their alcohol use. helps individuals assess their own alcohol consumption patterns to determine if their drinking is likely to be harming their health or increasing their risk for future harm.

Quick Links:
Alcohol Screening and Brief Interventions: A Guide for Public Health Practitioners (PDF)
Patient Alcohol Screening Tool

Treatment, Tools and Training

Talking With Adult Patients

Talking With Your Adult Patients About Alcohol, Drug, and/or Mental Health Problems (PDF)

A discussion guide for primary health care providers developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The Macarthur Initiative

The Macarthur Initiative on Depression and Primary Care- Resources for Clinicians

This website offers a comprehensive range of materials to make a difference in the primary care management of depression. The Tool Kit includes easy to use instruments and information sources to assist with recognizing and diagnosing depression; educating patients about depression, assessing treatment preferences, engaging their participation and explaining the process of care; using evidence-based guidelines and management tools for treating depression; and monitoring patient response to treatment. Although the Initiative is no longer funded, the Toolkit and research remain available.

Quick Links:
Toolkit (PDF)

The "Action Signs"

The “Action Signs” Project – A Toolkit To Help Health Professionals Identify Children At Behavioral and Emotional Risk (PDF)

The action signs are a set of indicators of potentially serious emotional, mental or behavioral difficulty. The toolkit is for parents, educators and health professionals and is from the Reach Institute. It includes sample posters for use in physician’s offices and informational handouts for parents and youth. The toolkit also includes sample scripts and guidelines for introducing a discussion of the Action Signs, issues related to making a mental health referral, and a list of referral resources.

Partners in Health

Partners in Health: Primary Care/County Mental Health Collaboration Tool Kit (PDF)

This toolkit was developed by the Integrated Behavioral Health Project (IBHP), a strategic initiative of The California Endowment and Tides Center, to provide action steps to facilitate integrating behavioral health services and primary care throughout California.

The Synthesis Project

The Synthesis Project- Mental Disorders and Medical Comorbidity (PDF)

Published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this synthesis presents evidence that persons with comorbid mental and medical conditions are most likely to incur high costs and to receive poor quality of care. It addresses questions such as:

  1. What is the rate of comorbidity between medical and mental conditions and why is it so common?
  2. What are the associated mortality, quality of care, and cost burdens of comorbidity?
  3. What are the current evidence-based approaches for addressing comorbidity?
Suicide Prevention and Awareness

Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Primary Care Practices

This web-based toolkit is useful for primary care providers and medical practice managers in rural and non-rural settings. It includes tools to assess your patient’s risk of suicide, plan interventions, create safety plans and develop partnerships with others in the community.

Quick Links:
Tool Kit
Safety Planning – A Quick Guide for Clinicians (PDF)

Recognizing and Responding

A one-hour training program developed by the American Association of Suicidology that provides physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians’ assistants knowledge to integrate suicide risk assessments into routine office visits, to formulate relative risk, and to work collaboratively with patients to create treatment plans.

Primary Care Pocket Guide

Primary Care Pocket Guide (PDF):

The Pocket Guide for Primary Care Professionals provides a summary of important risk and protective factors for suicide; questions you can use to ask patients about their suicidal thoughts, plans, and intent; and a decision tree for managing the patient at risk for a suicide attempt. The card is designed to be printed on both sides and folded in quarters to fit easily into a pocket.

Office Protocol

Office Protocol Development Guide for Suicidal Patients (PDF):

The Office Protocol is a template document to be completed with the staff in each primary care office to define roles, responsibilities, and procedures that will be followed when a patient is identified as being at elevated risk for suicide. Once completed, this protocol becomes an important patient management tool. This document is part of the Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Primary Care Practices.

Crisis Support Plan

Crisis Support Plan (PDF):

The Crisis Support Plan is used by the patient and the clinician to enlist social support from a trusted friend or relative should a suicide crisis recur. It explains roles that supportive individuals can take to help protect the person at risk for suicide and serves as an informal contract that the designated support person will fulfill these roles. Active support of a friend or loved one is among the strongest factors that protect against suicide. This document is part of the Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Primary Care Practices.

Public Awareness Materials

Public Awareness Materials (PDF):

Post these materials in your waiting room, exam rooms, or office hallways to provide your patients with the suicide hotline number, an important resource for potentially suicidal patients, and to help to address the problem of stigma associated with suicidality.

Zero Suicide in Health

Zero Suicide in Health and Behavioral Health Care
The Zero Suicide Initiative is a commitment to suicide prevention in health and behavioral health care systems. The site includes a toolkit, information on the training academy, and ways to get involved.