Mental health problems continue to be prevalent among Korean youth and are thus in need of more attention, research, and support. Mental health problems lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including academic difficulties, social isolation, and cha ...
Mental health problems continue to be prevalent among Korean youth and are thus in need of more attention, research, and support. Mental health problems lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including academic difficulties, social isolation, and challenges in development—making mental health both an individual and society issue. Fortunately, significant progress has been made in the field with respect to developing and identifying effective interventions to help youth reduce these mental health problems and subsequent negative effects. For example, through a rigorous coding process (spanning 60 years of published research trials across several different countries), core components of effective treatments, known as Practice Elements, have been identified in the youth treatment literature, representing the treatment techniques associated with the most effectiveness with respect to helping children better manage their mental health problems (Chorpita et al., 2011). Among these Practice Elements include mental health skills focused on child skills, including Relaxation Skills, Social Skills, Communication Skills, Cognitive Restructuring Skills, and Activity Scheduling Skills, among others. These child-focused skills can be thought of as positive strength behaviors and skills of children (with respect to managing their mental health and well-being).
Although there has been a lot of development and progress in the area of finding ways to treat children in these areas, relatively less development and progress has been in the assessment of these areas. Some measures do exist that measure some of the noted positive strength areas in children, such as Social Skills and Problem Solving Skills in children. However, no comprehensive measures exist yet that measure all evidence-based Child Strength areas identified by the recent empirical review of the child and adolescent treatment literature (i.e., Long-Term Goal Settings, Talent/Skills Building, Assertiveness Skills, Social Skills, Relaxation Skills, Problem Solving Skills, Self-Rewards/Self-Praise, Psycho-Education, Activity Scheduling, Environmental Control, Communication Skills, Cognitive Restructuring, Facing My Fear). One reason for this is that all such (strength-based) measures to date were developed not based on an empirical, literature wide review of what areas matters most for children and adolescents, but rather, primarily based on rationally-derived decision making processes involving experts’ opinions. While such rationally-derived approaches have much merit and value, they do risk missing important areas that would be captured by a systematic review of the empirical treatment literature. What has not yet been developed is an assessment method based on the positive strength behaviors of children identified in the literature-wide review noted above.
In this present study, we therefore developed a new measure—called the Evidence-Based Strengths Assessment (ESA)—which comprehensively measures all the child strength skill areas identified by the recent literature-wide empirical review (Chorpita et al., 2011), such as Relaxation Skills, Social Skills, Communication Skills, Cognitive Restructuring Skills, and Activity Scheduling Skills, among others skills. We also sought to examine the reliability and validity of this new questionnaire to ensure that responses from youth on this measure can be interpreted meaningfully. Verifying the reliability and validity of this new measure is important to ensure that use of its scores can be used effectively with respect to helping with the promotion of increasing well-being and reducing mental health problems among children and adolescents.
For the present study, we obtained and examined data from a total of 1,038 students (3rd grade to 11th grade) enrolled in the Seoul Capital Area (Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi-do region). The result of the exploratory factor analysis confirmed that a 12 factor structure was associated with good model fit (combining Communication Skills and Assertiveness Skills into a single factor). All items also loaded significantly and highly (<.38) on their intended factors. The 12 factors are:
• Factor 1: Psycho-Education
• Factor 2: Problem Solving Skills
• Factor 3: Cognitive Restructuring
• Factor 4: Self-Rewards/Self-Praise
• Factor 5: Long-Term Goal Settings
• Factor 6: Activity Scheduling
• Factor 7: Relaxation Skills
• Factor 8: Talent/Skills Building
• Factor 9: Environmental Control
• Factor 10: Facing My Fear
• Factor 11: Social Skills
• Factor 12: Communication/Assertiveness Skills
The result of the internal consistency confirmed that all 12 subscales exceeded the .70 cutoff of adequate reliability. The Total Score was also associated with high reliability (Cronbach α=.95). The result of the construct (convergent) validity analyses revealed that, as predicted, all of the ESA subscales and Total score correlated significantly and positively with construct (convergent) validity criterion measure (i.e., the Youth Self Report Positive Resources Scale). Additional analyses in this area also supported the construct (divergent) validity of the ESA, as the ESA scale correlated less strongly with measures less related to their targeted constructs (such as relatively low correlations with the Korean Emotional Experience Negative Affect Scale and K-YSR Externalizing Scale).
The result of the criterion-related validity analyses also demonstrated that, as predicted, all ESA subscales correlated (a) significantly and negatively with the K-YSR DSM-oriented Affective Problem scale and (b) significantly and positively with the Korean Emotional Experience Positive Affect Scale.
Overall, the results of the present study examining the psychometric properties of the ESA support the reliability, validity and factor structure of the scores provided by children and adolescents on the newly developed ESA questionnaire. The development and psychometric validation of this new questionnaire can serve as an important step in providing the field with a much-needed comprehensive assessment tool. We can now conduct more comprehensive and effective screening, assessment, and monitoring of some of the most important positive strength skill areas in children and adolescents’ lives that can help protect themselves from mental health problems and the myriad of associated negative sequelae.