Mental health at all ages: Construction and Validation of the interRAI 0-3

Jul. 11, 2016

Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre & Western University: $167,000 over 2 years

Not many children with mental health problems receive appropriate treatment. Yet, the importance of mental health has been acknowledged by clinicians, educators and policy makers as a top priority for Ontario. There is an exceptional need for the development of an integrated set of standardized child and youth mental health assessment instruments to enhance collaboration in various settings like hospitals, mental health facilities, and schools. The Community Vitality grant to Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre and Western University will directly bridge this gap within the service system with interRAI 0-3.

The interRAI 0-3, on a global level, will provide numerous advantages for children, families, and service organizations by providing information to support decisions related to (a) care planning; (b) resource allocation; (c) quality improvement; and (d) outcome measurement. It will also allow children to be followed across sectors and systems as they age. This information will be consistent across agencies and sectors, a shift from the current fragmented mental health system. The result? Children having access to timely, responsive and integrated mental health services. InterRAI 0-3 reflects the need for a coordinated response to mental health needs for London children and will assist in creating a more integrated service system.

“I think what is most game-changing about the construction of the validation of inter-RAI 0-3, is the long-term effect. So, what we are really hoping for is to change the service sector, so that it is stream-lined.  So that we have a common language among the assessments, so clinicians know what they’re looking for, know what services to refer these children to,” says Jo Ann Iantosca, Ph. D. Candidate, Applied Psychology, Faculty of Education at Western University. 


InterRAI itself is a collaborative network of researchers across 35 different countries, working to evaluate and treat health problems on vulnerable populations.  This initiative will complete the suite, covering the entire lifespan of 0-geriatric, with assessment, intervention, and evaluation.  By completing interRAI 0-3, mental health and development needs of very young children will be captured, forestalling any sort of visible developmental red flags. It can change the pathway for individual children, maximizing impact with the assessments currently available.

“With the support of London Community Foundation, we’re able to move the project forward.  We’re able to validate this instrument, to ensure that that age range from 0-3, that is most crucial for early intervention purposes, is going to be targeted and get them the exact supports that they need,” says Iantosca. 

The Community Vitality grant program is supported by the Smart & Caring Community Fund. To learn more, click here.