Unlocking the Power of Well-Being: A Comprehensive Look at the WHO-5 Assessment Instrument at BHCS

Erin McCleary | Oct 20, 2023 | 3 min read


We're excited to spotlight Erin McCleary, an intern at Behavioral Health Consulting Solutions (BHCS), as she delves into the World Health Organization Well-being Index (WHO-5). This tool is an invaluable asset for understanding well-being across diverse populations and settings.

What is the WHO-5?

The WHO-5 is a short, non-invasive questionnaire that measures the subjective well-being of individuals. It's a universal tool, translated into 30 languages and used across various countries and age groups.

Description of the Instrument

The WHO-5 consists of five simple questions that tap into an individual's sense of well-being. Unlike other tools, it doesn't focus on disease, psychopharmacology, or biological markers, making it a pure measure of well-being.

Psychometric Qualities

Recent studies are synthesizing the psychometric qualities of the WHO-5, especially its reliability, validity, and responsiveness to change in mental health settings. The scale has shown high clinical validity and can be used irrespective of underlying illness.

Scoring and Interpretation

The WHO-5 uses a Likert scale ranging from 0 ('at no time') to 5 ('all the time'). The raw score is then quadrupled, with '0' representing the worst imaginable well-being and '100' representing the best.

Strengths and Limitations

The WHO-5 is simple, free to use, and can be administered by any care provider. However, it does not include diagnoses, which can be both a strength and a limitation depending on the context.

Application in Practice at BHCS

At BHCS, the WHO-5 serves as a lens through which we view client well-being, irrespective of symptoms or disorders. It can be used alongside other tools like the PHQ-9 to provide a comprehensive understanding of a client's mental health. This approach aligns with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, emphasizing well-being as a fundamental aspect of mental health care.


The WHO-5 is not just a tool but a paradigm shift in how we approach well-being in mental health settings. It's becoming an integral part of our practice at BHCS, helping us to better serve our clients.

Further Reading and Resources


BHCS Facebook


Lara‐Cabrera, M. L., et al. (2020). Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Garland, A. F., et al. (2018). Families, Systems, & Health.

Hall, T., et al. (2011). Rehabilitation Psychology.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). Psychological Review.

Topp, C. W., et al. (2015). Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

©2024 Behavioral Health Consulting Solutions

All rights reserved