Mental health literacy in young adults: adaptation and psychometric properties of the mental health literacy questionnaire

Pedro Dias, Luísa Campos*, Helena Almeida, Filipa Palha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Mental health literacy (MHL) is considered a prerequisite for early recognition and intervention in mental disorders, and for this reason, it has become a focus of research over the past few decades. Assessing this construct is relevant for identifying knowledge gaps and erroneous beliefs concerning mental health issues, to inform the development of interventions aimed at promoting mental health literacy as well as the evaluation of these interventions. Recently, we developed a new self-reporting measure (MHLq) for assessing mental health literacy in young people (12–14 years-old), meeting the need to assess MHL from a comprehensive perspective of the construct instead of focusing on a restricted number of mental disorders or specific dimensions (e.g., knowledge concerning specific disorders; stigma). The present study aimed to adapt the MHLq for the young adult population and to examine its psychometric properties, according to the following steps: (1) item adaptation, using a think aloud procedure (n = 5); (2) data collection (n = 356, aged between 18 and 25 years old; and (3) psychometric analyses (exploratory factor analysis and internal consistency analysis). The final version of the questionnaire included 29 items (total scale α = 0.84), organized by four dimensions: (1) knowledge of mental health problems (α = 0.74); (2) erroneous beliefs/stereotypes (α = 0.72); (3) help-seeking and first aid skills (α = 0.71); and (4) self-help strategies (α = 0.60). The results suggest that the MHLq-adult form is a practical, valid, and reliable screening tool for identifying gaps in knowledge, beliefs, and behavioral intentions related to mental health and mental disorders, planning promotion programs, and evaluating intervention effectiveness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1318
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Mental health literacy questionnaire
  • Psychometric properties
  • Young adults


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