Measuring outcomes in YMH services

Measuring outcomes in YMH services

Measuring outcomes in YMH services

  • Mental health experts often use psychological measures to assess how a person is feeling, their psychological distress, or their overall wellbeing
  • Measuring outcomes for young people in mental health services is an important way to assess the impact of the service
  • To be useful for mental health services, psychological measures need to give a consistent and accurate measurement of the aspect of mental health being assessed.

To ensure that something is effective we need to measure it. Mental health professionals often use psychological measures to examine the outcomes of the interventions they use to support young people’s mental health.

This helps quantify the impact of the service and support evidenced-informed practice.

Clinical measures

The measures used in mental health services can focus on various elements of mental health and wellbeing.

The Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation (CORE) is a frequently used outcome measure. Used to assess psychological distress, the CORE has different versions. The CORE-10 is for young people who are 17 or older and the YP-CORE for young people aged 11-16 years-old.

The Mental Health Continuum-Short Form (MHC-SF), is another example. This gives a more global measure of overall emotional, social, and psychological wellbeing.

The Goal Based Outcome (GBO) measure is another commonly used person-centred tool that focuses on progress towards goals during an intervention. 

 Each of these measures has been tested in Jigsaw services, and the CORE and GBO are part of our routine outcome measurement. 

The measures Jigsaw uses seem to be effective across different age groups and genders.

Fit for purpose

As part of our research, we test these tools to ensure that they are fit for purpose. This involves examining whether a measure gives consistent results. They are also tested to make sure they are actually measuring what they’re supposed to. It is also important to test that a measure works regardless of factors like age and gender.

Evaluations of these outcome measures have shown they are effective tools to assess the mental health and wellbeing of young people attending the services.

All three of the measures provide consistent results. They appear to measure the different aspects of young people’s mental health they were designed to.

The measures also seem to be effective across different age groups and genders. The evidence from this research suggests that these psychological measures can be effectively used in youth mental health services.

Reports and publications

O'Reilly, A., Peiper, N., O'Keeffe, L., Illback, R., & Clayton, R. (2016)

Performance of the CORE-10 and YP-CORE measures in a sample of youth engaging with a community mental health service. International Journal Of Methods In Psychiatric Research, 25(4), 324-332.


Donnelly, A., O’Reilly, A., Dolphin, L., O’Keeffe, L., & Moore, J. (2019)

Measuring the performance of the Mental Health Continuum-Short Form (MHC-SF) in a primary care youth mental health service. Irish Journal Of Psychological Medicine, 36(3), 201-205.


O'Reilly, A., McKenna, N. and Fitzgerald, A. (2021)

Measuring goal progress using the goal-based outcome measure in Jigsaw – A primary care youth mental health service. Child Adolesc Ment Health.