The Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) was developed to enable the monitoring of mental wellbeing in the general population and the evaluation of projects, programmes and policies which aim to improve mental wellbeing. The WEMWBS is a 14-item scale of positively worded statements covering feeling and functioning aspects of mental wellbeing. The 14-statements have five response categories from ‘none of the time’ to ‘all of the time’. Children and young people are asked to describe their experiences over the past two weeks. Although the WEMWBS was not designed to monitor mental wellbeing at an individual level, research (in adults) suggests that the WEMWBS could detect clinically meaningful change (Collins, Gibson, Parkin, Parkinson, Shave & Dyer, 2012; Maheswaran, Weich, Powell & Stewart-Brown 2012).
|Internal consistency||Whether several items that propose to measure the same general construct produce similar score||
The WEMWBS showed high internal consistency in a population of UK 13–16 year olds (Clarke et al., 2010), Northern Irish year 11 school students (McKay & Andretta, 2017), Norwegian 15-21 year olds (Ringdal, Bradley Eilersten, Bjørnsen, Espnes & Moksnes, 2018), UK university students and a Scottish general population aged 16 to over 75 years (Tennant et al., 2007).
|Test-retest reliability||Degree to which the same respondents have the same score after a period when a trait should not have changed||
The WEMWBS test-retest reliability within 7-8 days after first completion was moderate in a UK population of 13-16 year olds (Clarke et al., 2010) and the one-week test-retest reliability was high in a UK population of university students (Tennant et al., 2007).
|Convergent validity||Degree to which two measures of constructs that theoretically should be related are in fact related||
The WEMWBS showed positive correlations with related constructs in a population of UK 13–16 year olds (Clarke et al., 2010), Northern Irish year 11 school students (McKay & Andretta, 2017), Norwegian 15-21 year olds (Ringdal et al., 2018), UK university students and a Scottish general population aged 16 to over 75 years (Tennant et al., 2007). Related constructs included measures related to life satisfaction and physical and mental health.
|Construct validity||Degree to which a test measures what it claims, or purports, to be measuring||
The WEMWBS has a one-factor structure which combined with high internal consistency indicates the scale is likely to measure one construct – mental wellbeing (Taggart, Stewart-Brown & Parkinson, 2015).
|Concurrent validity||If a measure correlates well with a measure that has previously been validated||
The WEMWBS was positively correlated with WHO-5 in a UK population of 13–16 year olds (Clarke et al., 2010), university students and in a Scottish general population aged 16 to over 75 years (Tennant et al., 2007). This correlation was greater among university students than in the general population.
Lack of correlation with opposite concepts
|The WEMWBS was negatively correlated with opposite concepts in populations of UK 13–16 year olds (Clarke et al., 2010), Northern Irish year 11 school students (McKay & Andretta, 2017), Norwegian 15-21 year olds (Ringdal et al., 2018), UK university students and a Scottish general population aged 16 to over 75 years (Tennant et al., 2007). Opposite concepts included measures to physical and mental health.|
The WEMWBS has been validated for a population of 13-16 years olds (Clarke et al., 2010), university students and the general population (Tennant et al., 2007). The WEMWBS has also been validated in secondary care mental health users aged 18+ (Bass, Dawkin, Muncer, Vigurs & Bostock, 2016).
The WEMWBS has been translated and validated into a number of languages, including: Bangla, Brazilian Portuguese, British Sign Language, Chilean Spanish, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Italian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Urdu.
For more information, please contact the developers.
The WEMWBS is designed to be completed by individuals either on paper or on a computer.
WEMWBS questionnaire: https://www.corc.uk.net/media/1537/wemwbs.pdf
Scoring & Interpretation
The WEMWBS is scored by summing the scores for each of the 14 items, which are scored from 1 to 5.
Scores range from 14 to 70 and higher scores indicate greater positive mental wellbeing. The idea of wellbeing is fairly new, therefore, it is difficult to fully interpret what the scores mean for each individual. However, you can see how individual’s scores compare with national survey data (from adults) and find additional information on interpretation here:
Further interpretation will depend on your study design.
The WEMWBS has been compared with a measure of depression, the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). This suggest that a WEMWBS score of ≤40 could indicate high risk of depression as defined by the CES-D, however, the WEMWBS was not developed to measure mental health and should not be used for screening purposes (Taggart et al., 2015).
The WEMWBS is free to use but you need to ask for permission before you begin using WEMWBS, by completing a registration form on the WEMWBS website:
WEMWBS is protected by copyright, the Reproduction copyrights for WEMWBS are as follows and must be presented on any copy of WEMWBS used:
“Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) © NHS Health Scotland, University of Warwick and University of Edinburgh, 2006, all rights reserved.”
If you produce any documents outlining your WEMWBS results (e.g. reports, presentations) you need to reference WEMWBS as above.
A short version of the WEMWBS: The SWEMWBS is also used, consisting of 7 statements which relate more to functioning than feelings and so offer a slightly different perspective on mental wellbeing.
Further information on the WEMWBS and its use is available from the University of Warwick.
WEMWBS Practitioner Guide
WEMWBS User Guide 2008
Population Norms in Health Survey 2011
Bass, M., Dawkin, M., Muncer, S., Vigurs, S. & Bostock J. (2016). Validation of Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) in an population of people using Secondary Care Mental Health Services. Journal of Mental Health, 25(4), 323-329.
Clarke, A., Putz, R., Friede, T., Ashdown, J., Adi, Y., Martin, S., Flynn, P., Blake, A., Stewart-Brown, S. & Platt, S. (2010). Warwick-Edinburgh mental well-being scale (WEMWBS) acceptability and validation in English and Scottish secondary school students (The WAVES Project). NHS Health Scotland; http://www.healthscotland.scot/media/1720/16796-wavesfinalreport.pdf
Collins, J., Gibson, A., Parkin, S., Parkinson, R., Shave, D., & Dyer, C. (2012). Counselling in the workplace: How time-limited counselling can effect change in well-being. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 12(2), 84-92, doi:10.1080/14733145.2011.638080
Maheswaran, H., Weich, S., Powell, J. & Stewart-Brown, S. (2012). Evaluating the responsiveness of the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale (WEMWBS): Group and individual level analysis. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 10, 156.
McKay, MT. & Andretta, JR. (2017) Evidence for the Psychometric Validity, Internal consistency and measurement invariance of Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale Scores in Scottish and Irish Adolescents. Psychiatry Research, 255, 382-386.
Ringdal, R., Bradley Eilersten, ME., Bjørnsen, HN., Espnes, GA., & Moksnes, UK. (2018). Validation of two versions of the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale among Norwegian adolescents. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 46, 718-725.
Taggart, F., Stewart-Brown, S., & Parkinson, J. (2015). Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) User Guide, Version 2. NHS Health Scotland.
Tennant, R., Hiller, L., Fishwick, R., Platt, S., Joseph, S., Weich, S., Parkinson, J., Secker, J & Stewart-Brown, S. (2007). The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS): development and validation. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 5, 63.
Please note that the information on this page was last updated in March 2020.