We have developed two scales: 1. the Knowledge of Mental Illness and Recovery (K-MIR) Scale and 2. the Youth Mental Health Literacy Scale (YMHL).

The theoretical underpinnings of the two scales are not based on the medical model of mental illness. There already are a few scales with this foci. The scales we have developed are based on youth, parents and experts views of what all young people’s mental illness knowledge needs and understandings are/should be, including children of parents with a mental illness. We also conducted a thorough literature review identifying the gaps in current knowledge scales.

The scales ask questions relating to coping, help seeking behaviour, stigma, recovery information, family communication/dynamics and the medical side of mental illness (i.e. is it hereditary etc.). We used recovery based language from a strength based approach. 

The researchers are based internationally and hope to validate this scale for a range of contexts. In our first stage the K-MIR has been validated in the USA, with Australia soon to follow.

Overview of each scale:

  1. The Knowledge of Mental Illness and Recovery (K-MIR) Scale

The purpose of K-MIR scale is to measure young people’s knowledge of mental illness, stigma and recovery of 10 to 16 year olds. It has 35 items with a 4.8 reading level. This scale is short taking around 11-14 minutes to complete. The K-MIR scale includes three sub-scales.

2. The Youth Mental Health Literacy (YMHL) scale

The purpose of the YMHL scale is to measure young people’s (under 18 years) knowledge of mental illness, help seeking and recovery. This scale is a best fit for children of parents with a mental illness as it includes family crisis questions. There are five sub-scales. Currently we have 83 questions on the first full draft; we expect it to be reduced to about 50 questions or less when the psychometrics are completed this month (Aug, 2019). The reading level is at 5.1. 

The main differences between the K-MIR and YMHL:

K-MIRYMHL
– Age: 10-16
– 36 items
– Completion time: 11 to 14 minutes
– 4.8 reading level
– Mix of true/false and multiple choice questions
– Scale content:
1) Mental illness,
2) Stigma
3) Recovery
– No family or help seeking sub scales


– Age: 10-18
– Final scale will have 50 items
– 5.1 reading level
– Multiple choice questions only
– Scale Content:
1) Knowledge of mental illness conditions,
2) Recovery behaviours and strategies,
3) Stigma,
4) Help seeking,
5) Responding to mental health crises among family members and friends
– Includes family context and help seeking items