Measuring mental health literacy in children

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


This research aims to develop a verbally administered Mental Health Literacy (MHL) scale for children aged 10-12. The most widely accepted definition of MHL is, “knowledge and beliefs about mental disorders which aid their recognition, management or prevention”. (Jorm et al., 1997, p. 182). MHL scales are used to evaluate programs that aim to equip people early on with knowledge and tools to improve their mental health, reduce negative mental health outcomes, and reduce stigmatising attitudes about mental health and/or mental illness. Most MHL research is focused on adults. In the last decade, there has been emerging research in the area of MHL for young people, with recent studies highlighting that MHL needs to be developmentally appropriate and “tailored in its application across the life span” (Kutcher et al., 2016, p. 155). Because the delivery of mental health information needs to be developmentally appropriate, the
current definitions and frameworks of MHL are not inclusive of young people of different ages who may require different and/or tailored mental health content. It is important that mental health information be clearly written and accessible to all individuals. This research aims to develop an accessible and inclusive MHL scale for children aged 10-12. It does this in two ways. The first is by using rigorous research methods to develop an age-appropriate scale for children. The second is by designing a scale that can be administered to children verbally.
Currently, young people, and people in general, with limited literacy abilities are not accounted for by existing measures of MHL as they require a heavy demand on reading. This research is a stepping-stone for future research in the promotion of mental health education for children. It advocates that mental health information is needed for school-aged children as a means of
preventing serious mental health problems that start to develop in early adolescence.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019
EventNew Zealand Psychological Society Annual Conference 2019 - Rotorua, New Zealand
Duration: 27 Aug 201930 Aug 2019


ConferenceNew Zealand Psychological Society Annual Conference 2019
CountryNew Zealand


  • Measurement
  • Mental health literacy
  • Children

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