One of the challenges for mental health research is the lack of an agreed set of outcome measures that are used routinely and consistently between disciplines and across studies in order to build a more robust evidence base for how to better understand young people’s mental health and effectively address diverse needs.
This study involved a scoping review of reviews on consensus of the use of mental health and wellbeing measures with children and young people. We were particularly interested to identify if there are differences in measures that are recommended for children and young people with care experience including those with developmental disabilities.
We identified 41 reviews, of which two had a focus on child welfare settings, three on childhood trauma and 14 focused on children and young people with developmental disabilities. Overall, our review highlights a lack of consensus and a diversity of measures within the field. We identified 60 recommended measures, of which only nine were recommended by more than one review.
Our review highlights the need for greater agreement in the use of mental health outcome measures. While our review highlights that there is value in identifying measures that can be used with any child or young person, researchers need to take into account additional considerations when working with children and young people with care experience and those with developmental disabilities, to ensure measures are accessible and sensitive to their life experiences.