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Mental health and wellbeing: Knowing yourself better

Understanding how the dimensions of your life are interconnected and your own response to stressful experiences provides the starting point for finding where you currently sit on the wellbeing continuum.

The wellbeing continuum (Attributed to Sean Cross, adapted by Emma Vaux, 2019).

In times of balance, you may be able to maintain a steady path. But in times of stress, change or uncertainty, you may feel your wellness starting to shift. At these times, it may be helpful to undertake some additional self-assessment or formal assessment to understand and highlight deeper feelings.

You may find the following self-assessment tools useful. They will each give you a score and may help you decide what your next steps might be. Staying well is important as well as being able to find the right help and support that you might need at this moment.

You may feel that these tools are not right for you and that is OK.

The Mayo Clinic well-being index

A good place to start is the physician well-being index created by the Mayo Clinic, an American not-for-profit organisation.

This online tool evaluates all dimensions of your mental health wellbeing, is anonymous, takes less than 1 minute to complete and allows you to calibrate your wellbeing relative to professional peers nationally as well as to colleagues locally. Individual information and scores are private. You are encouraged to repeat the process every so often to compare your scores.

Connecting with People self-care toolkit

Another good place to start is to understand how you currently cope with stress. Stress can be (hyper) acute as well as chronic or slow-burning. The behaviours we develop to cope with stress can help in the immediate or even medium term, but when repeated over the timespan of a rotation or career can have detrimental effects on our long-term mental wellbeing.  

The Connecting with People self-care toolkit asks you to fill in a worksheet to help you understand how you currently cope with stress, perhaps highlighting potentially unhelpful behaviours. This can provide a starting point for looking for healthier and sustainable ways to manage work-related stress.

Every Mind Matters

Public Health England, in partnership with the NHS, have launched Every Mind Matters to help people take simple steps to look after their mental health, improve their mental wellbeing and support others

You can access a simple five-step mind plan to get advice on any next steps.

BMA burnout questionnaire

If you are feeling vulnerable or experiencing feelings that feel like burnout then the BMA Check yourself out tool might be useful.

This confidential self-questionnaire has 16 questions to assess your general wellbeing and risk of burnout within the workplace. At the end it will give you a score.

GAD7 anxiety test questionnaire

If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety this anxiety assessment tool can help you to understand more.

This is a seven-item instrument that can be used to self-assess general anxiety disorder and is sensitive in picking up changes. It can also give a measure of severity.

WHO wellbeing index (WHO-5)

The WHO-five well-being index (WHO-5) is a short self-reported measure of current mental wellbeing. It can be a sensitive tool for diagnosing depression.

PHQ 9 depression test questionnaire

This is a nine item self-assessment tool for the assessment of the severity of depression. It objectively determines the severity of initial symptoms and can be used to monitor symptom changes and treatment effects over time. It can be used to make a tentative diagnosis of depression in people who are at-risk.

General health questionnaire (GHQ-12)

This self-administered 12-item screening measure of probable mental health problems assesses depression, anxiety, sleeping difficulties and minor cognitive errors. The GHQ-12 is scored on a range from 0 to 12, with a score of four or more indicative of probable mental ill health. It tends to be used in the research setting.

Find out more

The RCP’s Mental health and wellbeing resource aims to support physicians to stay well and seek help when needed by opening up the conversation about mental health issues and their impact.