OBJECTIVE: In the past years, the significance of early detection of psychoses has been increasingly recognized. Screening for the onset of disorders should focus on individuals seeking treatment in an outpatient setting and should preferably operate stepwise. Within a prospective study for the early detection of psychoses (FePsy = Früh Erkennung von PSYchosen) the self-rating instrument "Self-screen Prodrome" was developed to differentiate between healthy individuals, individuals with psychosis or an at-risk mental state for psychosis and patients with other ICD-10 diagnoses. METHOD: The "Self-screen Prodrome" was developed by taking established risk factors and early signs of disease into account. In particular, prodromes and pre-psychotic symptoms were captured. A total score and a subscale were analyzed with regard to validity and reliability. RESULTS: The total score "Self-screen Prodrome" distinguished between outpatients with a mental disorder and healthy individuals (Cut-off < or = 6; sensitivity: 85 % specificity: 91 %). Additionally the subscale distinguished between psychosis-(risk)-individuals and outpatients with other ICD-10 psychiatric diagnoses (Cut-off < or = 2; sensitivity: 85 % specificity: 39 %). CONCLUSION: The "Self-screen Prodrome" is a useful instrument that a) separates mentally ill patients from healthy individuals and b) filters individuals with a risk of developing psychoses from patients with other ICD-10 diagnoses for further screening. The next step in the early detection of psychoses for identified individuals should be a detailed psychiatric exploration by experts.