Building Mental Toughness for Resilience in the Age of the Pandemic

Norwich Pro

September 10, 2020

Mental health is an important issue in our society. Even before the pandemic, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that one in five U.S. adults experienced some form of mental illness. With the unpredictability, isolation, financial pressures, and disruption to daily lives caused by the COVID-19, millions of Americans now are left with feelings of loss, grief, anxiety, and PTSD.

Mental health issues aren’t just escalating among essential workers. Managers and C-level execs also are experiencing anxiety and stress just like the rest of the population.   According to findings by a Census Bureau survey, more than one-third of Americans are showing clinical signs of anxiety, depression, or both from the pandemic.  And a recent article in Forbes cited that the downturn in the economy caused by the coronavirus is a significant source of stress for 70% of Americans compared to 46% last year.

Building mental toughness among the population is important to create resiliency in facing the current challenges and aftermath of the pandemic. Norwich University is among the first educational institutions to teach the skills associated with mental toughness.


Mental Toughness Builds Resiliency

Mental toughness can help individuals and businesses better cope with the problems associated with the COVID-19 now and into the future. A mental state or attitude, mental toughness is defined as the ability to take a proactive approach in controlling thoughts and actions in maintaining a focus on what you want to do using a calm approach even under pressure.   Mental toughness is often cited as an attribute for the success of elite athletes who maintain confidence and a strong mentality under pressure.  The same is applicable in life and business. 

Mental toughness shows a high correlation to success in virtually every industry. Published research by AQR Ltd. shows that toughness is a major factor in:

  • Performance – up to 25% of the variation in performance in individuals
  • Positive Behavior – more engaged, more positive, more “can do” attitude
  • Wellbeing – more contentment, better stress management, less prone to bullying
  • Aspirations – more ambitious, more prepared to manage more risk

Mental toughness is also a major factor in building resilience that is essential in dealing with an adverse situation such as the COVID-19 to achieve what you have to do. Resiliency is a set of behaviors or coping strategies to move forward despite diversity.  

Post-pandemic, businesses must consider the importance of resiliency as a new team-performance standard, especially among managers who lead departments. Moving into the recovery phase of the pandemic, corporations will need resilient leaders to address a new situation with unpredictable challenges with decisive actions. According to Deloitte, resilient leaders are skilled at triage and can meet the crisis at hand, taking tactical steps that blunt its impact and help their organizations emerge stronger under a new normal.


Norwich Helps Build Mental Toughness

While resilience may not come easy in some individuals, it is a buildable trait and one that organizations should develop in their employees as they move forward in the new reality created by the COVID-19.

Understanding the need for individuals and businesses to build mental toughness to remain strong during the crisis and recovery, Norwich University offers a Mental Toughness Certificate Program that applies to every aspect of developing performance, positive behavior, and wellbeing in individuals. First developed to assess professional sports athletes and elite special forces soldiers, mental toughness programs are now used in the C-suites and boardrooms of some of the biggest and most successful businesses in the world.

Modular in format, this online certificate program provides participants with foundational concepts on mental toughness along with use-cases across functions and sectors for specialized training for individuals and organizations. Courses include:

MT310: Introduction to Mental Toughness and Assessment – provides a fundamental understanding of mental toughness and the four C’s model of control, commitment, confidence, and challenge. Also includes a psychometric assessment that measures the mindset of each individual on the four C’s. A feedback report contains suggestions for development activities based on results.

mental toughness

Shown is a practical model of mental toughness explored by Norwich University in its Mental Toughness Certificate Program.

MT320: Mental Toughness and the Individual & Team - reviews current research and specific areas of how mental toughness or lack of it affects an individual. The course also examines mental toughness relating to a team or group with examples drawn from academia, government, sports, corporate and military sectors.

MT330: Mental Toughness Mindset and the Link to Leadership - explores the link between the mindset and leadership styles with case studies in resilient leadership. Coursework focuses on creating personal leadership and organizational leadership development plans.

MT340: Mental Toughness and the Resilient Organization - focuses on the characteristics of a resilient organization and the link between mentally-tough (resilient) individuals and resilient organizations. The course reviews case series and best practices.

Norwich University is the first to offer a Mental Toughness Certificate Program that crosses various industries including academia, business, emergency services, corporate leadership, athletic teams, and government agencies. Designed for working adults, participants can finish work on their own schedule according to set deadlines. To find out more, visit


For information on Norwich Pro’s complete roster of certificate programs that develop and deepen professional skills to get ahead in careers or enter new ones, visit

Have questions? Contact Norwich at or by email at

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