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Commonly used measures for understanding mental health symptoms and substance use in infants, children and young people

About the resource

This excel workbook contains all measures that were found during a scoping review conducted by University of Auckland.

All measures have been grouped based on diagnosis or condition.

To read this workbook, each diagnosis has a tab. Each tab provides a list of the measures and provides a brief description of the tool, the format, such as how many questions or items, the age group the measurement is primarily designed for, who completes the tool i.e. child, parent, caregiver, an estimation of the time to complete the assessment and links to the papers describing psychometric properties of the tool.

This workbook offers a description of the tools, it is not a critical appraisal of the quality of the tool.

The inclusion of a measurement tool in this workbook is not an endorsement of that tool.

Language used

We recognise that people experiencing mental health challenges and substance use disorders have a diverse range of strengths, not defined or limited by their symptoms or diagnosis. We acknowledge that discussing measurement instruments that focus on symptoms and diagnoses can be deficit-focussed and this can be viewed as a limitation of commonly used measures. We strive to use person-centred and strengths-based language wherever possible.

The language used to describe mental health conditions and problematic substance use referred to in this workbook is the language used by the tool authors.

Commonly used terms:

Epidemiology is the study of the frequency, patterns, causes, and factors associated with health and disease in a population. This information helps to shape policy, investment decisions, and practices to support wellbeing.

Psychiatric epidemiology is the study of the frequency and pattern of mental health conditions and substance use disorders in a population, to better understand factors associated with their onset and course.

Prevalence refers to the number of people who have a specific condition (that is, meet diagnostic criteria) within a given time frame, within a given population.

Epidemiological measures are measurement tools containing a series of questions or items that aim to better understand health experiences of people in a given population, such as mental health or substance use in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Understanding the types of measures available

There are three key types of measures:

  • Interview schedules or diagnostic measures aim to measure the prevalence of conditions through a series of structured questions. These measures look at whether people meet specific diagnostic criteria (ICD-10 or DSM-IV/5) for a mental health condition or problematic substance use.
  • Symptom scales or screening measures identify possible symptoms of mental health conditions and problematic substance use based on responses to a list of questions. People’s responses are given a value and each value is added to provide an overall score. People experiencing symptoms do not necessarily meet diagnostic criteria for a mental health condition or substance use disorder. Mental health symptoms and substance use may not be having a significant impact on a person’s life, be situational, or transitory.

Contents of the workbook

This workbook consists of a number of individual spreadsheets covering a range of mental health, behavioural and substance use measures for infants, children and young people:

  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Conduct disorders
  • Development delay
  • Eating disorders
  • Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
  • Self-harm and Suicide
  • Substance Use
  • School Absenteeism
  • Prodromal psychosis
  • Trauma
  • Comprehensive assessment tools which measure a range of symptoms.

Linked Resources