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Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI)

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At HWDSB, the Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) well-being survey intends to hear directly from students in grades 4 to 12 about their experiences and well-being. We will implement a full version of the MDI in classrooms in 2021-22.

Although we want to hear directly from children and youth, if you believe your child needs support to fill out the MDI, please help them as you see fit.

Why it matters

Right now, however, we know this year has been hard on many children and youth. That is why it is important for us to collect data to fully understand the impact this pandemic is having on their well-being and perceptions. We want to use MDI to measure well-being during this critical and historic time. We will use the MDI results to inform programs, supports and services for children & youth that foster healthy development and healing from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Your child’s responses to the questions will be kept confidential and will be presented anonymously. We are not collecting student identifiers (e.g., student number or name).  Only Research & Analytics Department staff will have access to the survey data and will create anonymous, summary reports for our schools, the Board, and community partners working to improve the lives of children and youth. Children and youth may skip any questions they do not wish to answer. The MDI contains information about who they can reach out to if they feel distressed and need someone to talk to.


For questions or concerns related to the privacy of your child’s survey data, please contact privacy@hwdsb.on.ca. For questions about the survey itself, please contact research@hwdsb.on.ca. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health and well-being, please use our resources below.

The MDI was developed by researchers at the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP) at the University of British Columbia (UBC) for children in grades 4-8. We have worked with UBC to adapt it for youth in grades 9-12. The survey asks children and youth about their thoughts, feelings and experiences in school and in the community in the following areas:

  1. Social and emotional development, such as self-esteem, optimism, happiness and empathy;
  2. Feelings of connectedness to school, family, friends, and communities;
  3. School experiences;
  4. Physical health and well-being; and
  5. Time use after school hours, as well as students’ wishes for after-school time.

MDI was chosen as a measure of the Board’s annual plan goal of ensuring a safe, supportive and accepting learning environment. Because it is a tested instrument to measure well-being, we believe it is the right tool to use now.

The MDI is a self-report questionnaire completed by children and youth in grades 4 through 12. It asks them how they think and feel about their experiences both inside and outside of school. It includes questions related to the five areas of development that are strongly linked to well-being, health and academic achievement.

See the full MDI Survey below:

Here are brief descriptions of each domain and 2 sample questions to give you an idea of what is being asked:

Physical Health & Well-Being

Children evaluate their own physical well-being in the areas of overall health including emotional well-being, physical activity, nutrition and sleeping habits. Questions about physical health and well-being include:

In general, how would you describe your health?

  1. Poor
  2. Fair
  3. Good
  4. Excellent

How often do you get a good night’s sleep?

  1. Never
  2. Once a week
  3. 2 times a week
  4. 3 times a week
  5. 4 times a week
  6. 5 times a week
  7. 6 times a week
  8. Every day


Children are asked about their experiences of support and connection with the adults in their schools and neighbourhoods, with their parents or guardians at home, and with their peers. Students will be asked to respond to statements such as:

At my school there is a teacher or another adult who really cares about me.

  1. Not at all true
  2. A little true
  3. Pretty much true
  4. Very much true
  5. Not at all true

In my home, there is a parent or other adult who listens to me when I have something to say.

  1. A little true
  2. Pretty much true
  3. Very much true

Social and Emotional Development

Children respond to questions about their current social and emotional functioning in 7 areas: optimism, self-esteem, happiness, empathy, prosocial behaviour, sadness and worries. Students will be asked to respond to statements such as:

When I see someone being mean it bothers me.

  1. Disagree a lot
  2. Disagree a little
  3. Don’t agree or disagree
  4. Agree a little
  5. Agree a lot
  6. Disagree a lot

I am happy with my life.

  1. Disagree a little
  2. Don’t agree or disagree
  3. Agree a little
  4. Agree a lot

School Experiences

Children are asked about their school experiences in 4 areas: academic self-concept, school climate, school belonging, and experiences with peer victimization (bullying). Students will be asked to respond to statements and questions such as:

I am certain I can learn the skills taught in school this year.

  1. Disagree a lot
  2. Disagree a little
  3. Don’t agree or disagree
  4. Agree a little
  5. Agree a lot

I feel like I belong in this school.

  1. Disagree a lot
  2. Disagree a little
  3. Don’t agree or disagree
  4. Agree a little
  5. Agree a lot

Use of After-School Time

Children are asked about the time they spend engaged in organized activities such as sports, music and art, as well as the time they spend watching TV, doing homework and playing video games. Students will be asked to respond to questions and statements such as:

During last week from after school to dinner time (about 3 pm to 6 pm), how much time did you spend doing exercise or sports for fun (for example, playing outside, biking, skating, sledding, shooting hoops, swimming, yoga, dancing, or something else)?

  1. I did not do this activity
  2. Less than 30 minutes
  3. 30 minutes to 1 hour
  4. 1-2 hours
  5. 2 or more hours

Think about what you want to do on SCHOOL DAYS from after school to dinner time (about 3 pm to 6 pm).

  1. I am already doing the activities I want to be doing
  2. I wish I could do additional activities

Below are some services and resources for you to consider if you are concerned about your child/youth’s mental health.


School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO-SMSO)-Resources for Parents/Caregivers

 School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO-SMSO) – Resources for Children/Youth

 Crisis Services

  • COAST Hamilton. Crisis Line (905) 972-8338; Mental health crisis outreach and support for all ages.
  • McMaster Children’s Hospital: Child and Youth Mental Health Emergency Services (CHYMES) 1200 Main St W, Hamilton, ON L8N 3Z5 – Emergency Department for youth age 17 and younger.
  • Kids Help Phone. Crisis Line 1-800-668-6868; 24/7 counselling and information service for young people.
  • Sexual Assault Centre (SACHA) 24 Hour Support Line 905-525-4162

Supports in Hamilton Community

  • Alternative for Youth – community-based substance use and addiction treatment services that engage and mobilize youth and their families
  • The SPACE Youth Centre – a youth-led community organization through a collaborative partnership
  • Refuge: Hamilton Centre for Newcomer Health
  • CONTACT Hamilton. (905) 570-8888. Single access point for children and youth (age 18 and under) requiring service for social-emotional, behavioural, developmental and/or mental health needs.
  • De dwa da dehs ny (Aboriginal Health Centre) – (905) 544-4320, improving the health and well-being of Indigenous individuals, families and communities through holistic Indigenous, Traditional and Western health care
  • Hamilton Regional Indian Centre. (905) 548-9593, To provide the Urban Aboriginal People with the tools to achieve a balanced holistic lifestyle.
  • Child and Adolescent Services – (905) 546-2424. Children’s mental health program offered by the City of Hamilton to provide health assessment and treatment for children and youth, under 18, and their families.
  • Youth Wellness Centre – Mental health and substance use services for young people age 17 to 25.

Online Supports

  • Naseeha Mental Health Hotline Helpline: 1 (866) 627-3342. Mental Health workshops, web therapy sessions, and texting mental health support 5 days a week for Muslim and non-muslims.
  • Black Youth Helpline Helpline: 1-833-294-8650, Black Youth Helpline serves all youth and specifically responds to the need for a Black youth specific service, positioned and resourced to promote access to professional, culturally appropriate support for youth, families and schools.
  • LGBT Youth Line 1-800-268-9688 or text 647-694-4275, Youth Line offers confidential and non-judgemental peer support through our telephone, text and chat services. Get in touch with a peer support volunteer from Sunday to Friday, 4:00PM to 9:30 PM.
  • Speqtrum – a Local Support and Community Building for 2S-LGBTQIA+ Youth.
  • Your Space Hamilton – a place for youth and families looking for mental health information and supports in Hamilton, Ontario.
  • Anxiety Canada – a leader in developing free online, self-help, and evidence-based resources on anxiety.
  • Trans Lifeline Hotline – 1-877-330-6366, a peer support phone service run by trans people for our trans and questioning peers.

Albanian – shqip

Arabic – العربية

Bengali – বাংলা

Bosnian – bosanski

Chinese (Simplified) – 中文 (汉语)

Chinese (Traditional) – 中文 (漢語)

Dari – درى

Farsi – فارسی

French – Français

Gujarati – ગુજરાતી

Hindi – हिन्दी

Karen – ကညီကျိ

Khmer (Cambodian) – ភាសាខ្មែរ

Korean – 한국어

Kurdish – Kurdî

Polish – Polski

Pubjabi – ਪੰਜਾਬੀ

Russian – Русский язык

Serbian – Srpski

Somali – Soomaali

Spanish – Español

Turkish – Türkçe

Urdu – اردو

Vietnamese – Tiếng Việt

Updated on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.
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