Our Programmes



Sign up to our newsletter.

Follow ODI

Frameworks and tools to measure and evaluate mental health and psychosocial well-being

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Fiona Samuels, Rachel Marcus, Carmen Leon-Himmelstine

Although a variety of interventions and tools have been developed to address the mental health and well-being of young people across the world, a significant knowledge gap remains around adolescent health. This rapid non-exhaustive review focuses on global literature about approaches, instruments, frameworks and tools to measure mental health and well-being, with priority given to those applicable to young people and adolescents.

The review looks to answer two research questions:

  1. What are the instruments (tools, frameworks and approaches) used globally to measure the mental health of children, young people and adolescents?
  2. What are the opportunities and challenges in using these instruments?

Key messages

  • Mental health and well-being indicators, when measured alongside core health outcomes, have the potential to impact health financing decisions, bolster the provision of mental health support in primary care settings and enhance health policy and processes.
  • It is important to develop local scales that are more applicable in low- and middle-income country contexts, taking into account feasibility, resource availability, copyright considerations, personnel, language and other intersectional elements.
  • To improve the participation of young people and adequately understand their mental health concerns, needs and well-being requirements, we must move beyond solely numeric means of scoring their responses to questionnaires or observed behaviours and include a more goal-based understanding.
  • The inclusion and involvement of young people should be part of the evolution in mental health tools, with their contributions central to the design and development of mental health measures and frameworks.
  • During the Covid-19 crisis, mental health has been a priority topic, with calls for a common set of metrics considered fundamental to facilitate cross-country comparisons of mental health.
Aparna Ananthakrishnan with Fiona Samuels, Rachel Marcus and Carmen Leon-Himmelstine