Multiculturally Sensitive Mental Health Scale, Assessment Example


The Multiculturally Sensitive Mental Health Scale (MSMHS) provides a tool that can be used by clinicians and researchers to identify the true stress levels of African Americans. The basis for the development of the  MSMHS lies in the hypothesis that the perceived racism experienced by African Americans on a daily basis can significantly contribute to anxiety and depression in that populations. The  MSMHS is intended for use with African Americans only.

Description of Test

The Multiculturally Sensitive Mental Health Scale  was developed to provide a tool specifically aimed at assessing the mental health of African Americans, and in particular to include perceptions of racism as part of the assessment process (Chao and Green, 2011).  The tool is very new, developed in 2011, and thus has not yet received wide acceptance among clinicians and researchers.  The test consists of five scales including depression, well-being, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and perceived racism.  The MSMHS was developed explicitly for use with African Americans and consists of 34 items with Likert-scale responses ranging from “almost never happened to me” (1) to “almost always happens to me” (5).   Of the 34 items on the MSMHS, 10 addressed perceived racism, 9 addressed depression, 7 addressed well-being, 4 addressed anxiety, and 3 addressed suicidal thoughts (Chao & Green, 2011).

The test items in the perceived racism scale asks about experiences that are the daily experience of African Americans, and includes issues of feeling untrusted in stores, perceptions that others believe them to be lazy due to race, and feelings of being discriminated against (Chao & Green, 2011).

Development of Test

The test was constructed and validated through a series of administrations in which the MSMHS was compared to several already validated measures including the BSI, and the SRE, both instruments focused on multicultural assessments. The MSMHS was also tested using 2-week test-retest reliability with results ranging from 0.84 to 0.88 depending on the specific scale in question.  The test was checked for internal consistency and in validity checks, it was shown to have appropriate alpha scores. Specifically, the MSMHS was designed to consider the daily stress of racism in the participants (Chao & Green, 2011).

Wei et al.  (2010) noted that perceived racism in African Americans were more strongly associated with depressive symptoms than other more general stress measures. Thus a scale such as the MSMHS should provide a more capable diagnostic tool for African Americans than culturally generic measures (Chao & Green, 2011).

Assessment of Test

It is still too early to provide more than a preliminary guess at the effectiveness of the MSMHS as a clinically relevant assessment tool. However, the care with which the tool was constructed serves as a useful estimation of the tool’s overall validity and reliability.  Based on those measures, this should be a clinically helpful measure to help clinicians understand the true stress and anxiety levels of African Americans.



Chao, R. C-L. Green, K. E. (2011). Multiculturally Sensitive Mental Health Scale (MSMHS): Development, factor analysis, reliability, and validity. Psychological Assessment, 23 (4), 876-887.

Wei, M., Liao, K. Y-H., Chao, R. C-L., Mallinckrodt, B., Tsai, P-C., Botello-Zamarron, R. (2010). Minority stress, perceived bicultural competence, and depressive symptoms among ethnic minority college students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 57 (4), 411-422.