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Male toddler mental health indicator (MHI) scale score

Codes and Frequencies

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MTODMHI reports Mental Health Indicator (MHI) scores for male sample children age 2 to 3 based on parents' responses to a set of four questions about behavioral/emotional problems. The questions used to calculate MHI scores were taken from the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) developed by Dr. Thomas Achenbach and were selected separately according to specific gender and age groups (males and females; ages 2-3, 4-11, 12-17).

MTODMHI, which covers male children age 2-3, is one of six summary recodes for CBCL questions.


The other variables in this series are the following:

  • FTODMHI (female children 2-3) (available 1997 forward)
  • MKIDMHI (male children 4-11) (available 1997-2000)
  • FKIDMHI (female children 4-11) (available 1997-2000)
  • MTEENMHI (male children 12-17) (available 1997-2000)
  • FTEENMHI (female children 12-17) (available 1997-2000)

Before asking the appropriate set of questions for male sample children age 2-3, the interviewer stated, "I am going to read a list of items that describe children. For each one, tell me if it has been NOT TRUE, SOMETIMES TRUE, or OFTEN TRUE, of [sample child] during the past 2 months."


The Field Representative's Manuals for 1997-2000 instructed interviewers, "[i]f the respondent gives an answer which does not match the categories read in the question, reread the question emphasizing the wording of the answer categories."

The statements parents were asked to rate for male sample children age 2 to 3 included:

(During the past 2 months)
  • Has been uncooperative?
  • Has trouble getting to sleep?
  • Has speech problems?
  • Has been unhappy, sad, or depressed?

Responses for these four items were coded by NHIS as 0 (Not True), 1 (Sometimes True), and 2 (Often True). Individual item scores were then summed to calculate an overall MHI score ranging from 0 (lowest need for mental health services) to 8 (highest need for mental health services), which is reported in MTODMHI.

The set of statements that parents were asked to rate as the basis for MHI scores differed across child age groups, as well as differing between males and females in the same age group. For information on the items parents rated for other gender/age groups and for further details on the interpretation of MHI scores, see FTODMHI.


MTODMHI is completely comparable over time.

For 2001 forward, the NHIS replaced the CBCL questions for children age 4-17 with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), but retained the CBCL questions for children age 2-3. For more information on the SDQ, see any of the Child Strengths and Difficulties variables (e.g., BADTEMPER).


  • 1997-2013; 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018: Male sample children age 2 to 3.


  • 1997-2018