There is a growing interest in mainland China about schools’ roles in supporting students to develop positive mental health. However, relatively little data have been collected about mainland Chinese students’ mental health. This article reports a collaborative study, by eastern and western researchers, to translate and administer the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and a School Satisfaction Scale (SSS) to students in mainland China. We discuss the possible absence of some western psychological constructs in eastern contexts, and possible cultural differences in the levels of participants’ compliant responses. Descriptive results indicated that the mainland Chinese students’ SDQ responses were similar to students in comparative countries. Factor analyses indicated that the SDQ needed modification when used with our mainland Chinese sample. Structural equation modelling showed relationships between higher school satisfaction and lower mental difficulties. The study provides baseline data to inform school-based mental health promotion initiatives in mainland China. Broader outcomes are to inform researchers and educators about processes and cautions when using previously validated questionnaires in new cultural contexts. We highlight the need for close east–west researcher collaboration when exporting/importing psychological questionnaires.