Believing in yourself for good mental health

May 20, 2022
Believing in yourself for good mental health

Mental health professionals based in Denmark believe the key to preventing mental health problems from developing in the first place rests on the simple belief that you can. In a recent mental health survey led by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, involving over 3,000 Danish adults, those who were intentional about good mental health scored highest on a widely-used mental wellbeing scale: people who believed they could do something to keep mentally healthy tended to have higher mental wellbeing than people who didn’t have this belief.

Public treatment for mental health is increasingly difficult to obtain, but it doesn’t mean people have to struggle with their mental health as a result. In fact, there are many things people can do on their own to maintain good mental health, and believing that you can is the most beneficial.

This belief could be explained by a psychological concept known as the “wellbeing locus of control,” whereby people who have an internal wellbeing locus of control believe that their own attitudes and behaviour control their wellbeing. This subconsciously influences one’s outlook, lifestyle, or coping mechanisms, and may in turn affect mental health – previous research has linked this type of belief to fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress.

People with an external wellbeing locus of control, in contrast, believe that their mental wellbeing is dependent on factors or circumstances outside of their control.

This concept may explain why study participants who believe they can do something to change their mental health are more likely to have a high level of mental wellbeing and subsequently, a significantly lower risk of developing mental disorders.

In addition, the Danish researchers were able to show how practising good mental health principles, “Act-Belong-Commit,” or ABC, provided a wide range of wellbeing benefits, including higher life satisfaction and longer lifespan, and lower risk of cognitive impairment, mental disorders, and problematic alcohol use.

The research-based principles can be used by everyone, regardless of whether they’re struggling with a mental health problem or not – about 80% of study participants said that the ABCs had given them new knowledge about what they can do to support their mental health, and about 15% said that they had also taken action to enhance it.

The ABC principles include:

Act: Keep yourself charged by being physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually active. Do something – such as going for walks, reading, playing games, or taking up a hobby. An active mind and body can foster wellbeing and help quell overthinking or worrying about things that may be outside of your control.

Belong: Keep up friendships and close social ties, engage in group activities, and participate in community events. Do something with someone – whether that’s going to dinner with friends or joining a recreational sports league. Spending time with other people can help you feel more connected and build a sense of identity.

Commit: Set goals and challenges, engage in activities that provide meaning and purpose in life, including taking up causes and volunteering to help others. Do something meaningful – this can help you build a sense of meaning and self-worth within yourself.


Category: Education, Features

Comments are closed.