The KADS was developed to assist in the public health and clinical identification of young people at risk for depression. It was created by clinicians and researchers expert in the area of adolescent depression and the application of various scales and tools in clinical, research and institutional settings.

The 6-item KADS is designed for use in institutional settings (such as schools or primary care settings) where it can be used as a screening tool to identify young people at risk for depression or by trained health care providers (such as public health nurses, primary care physicians) or educators (such as guidance counselors) to help evaluate young people who are in distress or who have been identified as possibly having a mental health problem.