The Mental Health Quotient (MHQ) is an anonymous web-based assessment of mental health and well-being that comprehensively covers symptoms across 10 major psychiatric disorders, as well as positive elements of mental function. It uses a novel life impact scale and provides a score to the individual that places them on a spectrum from Distressed to Thriving along with a personal report that offers self-care recommendations. Since April 2020, the MHQ has been freely deployed as part of the Mental Health Million Project.
This paper demonstrates the reliability and validity of the MHQ, including the construct validity of the life impact scale, sample and test-retest reliability of the assessment, and criterion validation of the MHQ with respect to clinical burden and productivity loss.
Data were taken from the Mental Health Million open-access database (N=179,238) and included responses from English-speaking adults (aged≥18 years) from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, India, and Nigeria collected during 2021. To assess sample reliability, random demographically matched samples (each 11,033/179,238, 6.16%) were compared within the same 6-month period. Test-retest reliability was determined using the subset of individuals who had taken the assessment twice ≥3 days apart (1907/179,238, 1.06%). To assess the construct validity of the life impact scale, additional questions were asked about the frequency and severity of an example symptom (feelings of sadness, distress, or hopelessness; 4247/179,238, 2.37%). To assess criterion validity, elements rated as having a highly negative life impact by a respondent (equivalent to experiencing the symptom ≥5 days a week) were mapped to clinical diagnostic criteria to calculate the clinical burden (174,618/179,238, 97.42%). In addition, MHQ scores were compared with the number of workdays missed or with reduced productivity in the past month (7625/179,238, 4.25%).
Distinct samples collected during the same period had indistinguishable MHQ distributions and MHQ scores were correlated with r=0.84 between retakes within an 8- to 120-day period. Life impact ratings were correlated with frequency and severity of symptoms, with a clear linear relationship (R2>0.99). Furthermore, the aggregate MHQ scores were systematically related to both clinical burden and productivity. At one end of the scale, 89.08% (8986/10,087) of those in the Distressed category mapped to one or more disorders and had an average productivity loss of 15.2 (SD 11.2; SEM [standard error of measurement] 0.5) days per month. In contrast, at the other end of the scale, 0% (1/24,365) of those in the Thriving category mapped to any of the 10 disorders and had an average productivity loss of 1.3 (SD 3.6; SEM 0.1) days per month.
The MHQ is a valid and reliable assessment of mental health and well-being when delivered anonymously on the web.