The Global Assessment of Functioning (or GAF) scale is an internationally recognized measurement system for mental health. Its primary purpose is determining the mental competence of subjects by measuring the degree to which mental illness impairs their cognitive functions. The scale generates a score between 0 to 100 to represent their impairment.

The GAF scale helps mental health practitioners identify the person’s degree of need and provide support accordingly. It also informs decisions on treatment and recovery.

The earliest version of the GAF scale was created in 1962. It has since undergone many changes. In 2013, it was removed from American manuals on mental health disorders and replaced with a tool designed by the WHO. However, it continues to be used by some government departments and in certain sectors like insurance.

The Scale A GAF grade can be evidenced by various sources, including:

Interviews/Questionnaires

  • Medical records
  • Statements from a doctor or care provider,
  • Criminal records
  • References provided by relatives, etc.

It is split into ten segments referred to as ‘anchor points.’ The higher the grade given, the higher the degree of healthy mental functioning. If an individual's score is very low, they are likely to need wide-ranging support to complete daily activities.

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