Does mental toughness buffer the relationship between perceived stress, depression, burnout, anxiety, and sleep?

The present study examines whether mental toughness moderates the relationship between stress and four mental health outcomes (depressive symptoms, anxiety, burnout, and insomnia). In total, 207 medical students (Mage = 22.04 years, SD = 2.74, 51% male) from Iran took part in this cross-sectional study and completed a series of self-report questionnaires including the Perceived Stress Scale, the Mental Toughness Questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory, the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Maslach Burnout Inventory—Student Survey, and the Insomnia Severity Index. The findings show that stress was associated with more frequent health complaints across all outcomes, r = .36 to .72, p < .001, whereas mental toughness was associated with fewer mental health complaints (r = −.39 to −.71, p < .001). Elevated stress was only associated with higher depressive symptoms among students with low mental toughness scores, not among students with high mental toughness scores. Thus, our findings suggest that mental toughness may operate as a stress resilience resource among university students and may constitute a target variable for health interventions aimed at student populations. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)