Do you have the mental toughness to cope?

What is the relationship between mental toughness and issues such as job loss and impact of pandemic?

Symptoms of anxiety and depression, and self-reported stress have been common psychological responses to the pandemic. Our reaction to COVID-19 has created concerns about wellbeing and mental health resulting in a growth in research assessing our psychological status

However, not everyone responds in the same way.

A research team led by Dr. Dara Mojtahedi of Huddersfield University looked at the relationship between 'Mental Toughness' and self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and stress.

Having the Mental Toughness to copeDo you have Mental Toughness or Mental Sensitivity?

The researchers used an assessment method to measure mental status called MTQ48, which is a psychometric measure used to assess Mental Toughness in an individual. The measure comprises four key components of the personality trait of Mental Toughness, known as the 4C’s: 

  • Control,
  • Commitment,
  • Challenge and
  • Confidence,

and the results indicate a range of Mental Toughness from 1-10 for each of the 4C’s and overall.

Mental Toughness is a personality trait describing mental responses to stress, pressure and challenge. These range from Mental Toughness at one end of a spectrum and Mental Sensitivity at the other. MTQ48 assesses overall level of Mental Toughness as well as level of Mental Toughness on 6 components of Mental Toughness (see diagram).

The study indicates that although everyone can be generally anxious, stressed and depressed in response to the sustained pressure resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the more Mentally Tough you are - the better you are able to deal with this. The more Mentally Sensitive respond less well.

Mentally Sensitive can become increasingly sensitive

This is an important confirmation that our mental approach to events is a significant factor in determining our mental health or wellbeing. The study takes a snapshot at a point in time. Nevertheless, these findings are consistent with other research using the Mental Toughness concept and the MTQ measures which shows that the Mentally Sensitive can become more Mentally Sensitive under sustained stressful conditions.

This has significant implications for much of the population both during and after the pandemic. Without self awareness and without targeted intervention it may be that significant numbers will experience anxiety, depression and stress, with all of their consequences, for some time even when COVID-19 is dealt with.

A by-product of the study was that it was also able to show a similar effect with respect to job loss. The Mentally Tough dealt better with that outcome when it occurred.

Creating self awareness about ones Mental Toughness

The study suggests that, given the fact that Mental Toughness can be developed, creating self awareness about ones own Mental Toughness may be useful to help mitigate some of the effects of the pandemic.

MTQ48 and MTQPlus are measures of Mental Toughness developed by Doug Strycharczyk, CEO, AQR International in collaboration with Professor Peter Clough and Dr John Perry.

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