How Children Are Assessed for Mental Health With CGAS

Sad child

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The Children's Global Assessment Scale (CGAS) is a tool used to assess the global level of functioning and severity of mental illness in children and adolescents.

The CGAS is adapted from the Global Assessment Scale (GAS), which has now been widely replaced by the Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) developed for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

The CGAS uses various scales that assess a child's psychological, social and occupational functioning. The scoring on the scales ranges from positive mental health to severe psychopathology. Using a number system from 1 to 100, the CGAS assesses daily functioning and behaviors such as personal hygiene habits, sleep patterns and risk for suicide. A lower score indicates more severe impairment in daily functioning.

Example of CGAS Use

A child with major depressive disorder may be rated by the CGAS with a score of 40, indicating major impairment in several areas. However, with appropriate depression treatment, the child's score may increase to 75, indicating only slight impairment in functioning.

The CGAS is a useful tool for clinicians and researchers to assess a child's temporary state of being. However, the CGAS has been criticized for its lack of reliability between different scorers. The CGAS and other psychological assessments should only be used by professionals trained to use them.

Just knowing a child's score on the CGAS is not particularly useful for children and parents. Always ask your child's mental health provider to interpret findings of your child and what they mean for her.

More About Depression 

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a person to feel constantly sad. They also lose interest in many areas of life. Depression is also referred to as major depressive disorder or clinical depression. It can affect how you feel, think and behave and can lead to various emotional and physical problems. People who have depression may have trouble functioning day to day and may feel life isn't worth living.

Depression is not a weakness and unlike what some people say, people who are depressed can't simply "snap out" of it. Depression may require long-term treatment. Most people with depression feel better with medication, psychological counseling or a combination of both.

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Article Sources

  • Anna Lundh, Jan Kowalski, Carl Johan Sundberg, Clara Gumpert, Mikael Landen. Children's Global Assessment Scale (CGAS) in a Naturalistic Clinical Setting: Inter-Rater Reliability and Comparison With Expert Ratings. Psychiatry Research. 2010. 177: 206-210.
  • IH Monrad Aas. Guideline for Rating Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF). Annals of General Psychiatry. 2011. 10(2): 1-11.
  • Mayo Clinic. Depression (Major depressive disorder).