Mental health is something I deeply value. After fighting my way through my own various mental health problems (low self-esteem, depression, anxiety), it is a topic I find very important to talk about and also really rewarding! I love that it’s becoming more and more socially acceptable to speak openly about mental health and I pray our society will continue to learn how to value vulnerability and transparency as a strength, not a weakness.
In the past few weeks, we’ve discussed many topics I’m already familiar with. I’ve taken multiple psychology classes and am also involved in various organizations that seek to promote and cultivate positive mental health, so many of these concepts were not new to me. However, some of the models we’ve discussed have helped me string all of the previous information I’ve learned together and solidify it all into one over-arching idea. The Keyes’ model of complete mental health and flourishing, in my opinion, makes a lot more sense than any mental health model/common thought I’ve encountered before. I have ADHD, and up until two weeks ago before Jesus healed me, I had anxiety. Despite what the DSM might classify as mental health issues, I scored flourishing on the Keyes’ scale. I didn’t expect to score anything less because I know that my mental health is great; I love my life, take whatever comes my way in stride, and am completely content and at peace with myself and my circumstances. From the psychology I’ve been taught before, I think it would be assumed that because I have ADHD and previously had anxiety, I would have poor mental health, which certainly isn’t true. I really like the Keyes’ model because it acknowledges that genetic influence on mental health is only 5o% and intentional activity accounts for nearly the same amount at 40%. While books like the DSM might be great for diagnosing disorders, I don’t think the general thought within the psychology community should be that individuals with diagnosed problems are more likely to have bad mental health or less capable of living a life with positive mental health.
I enjoyed learning about positive psychology because it was never discussed in my previous psychology classes. While the concept seems like common sense (focusing on the good and not the bad makes us feel better? Duh!), it isn’t something I’ve seen taught extensively. The Wellbeing Theory (PERMA) features factors that can contribute to components of the Self-Determination Theory (autonomy, competency & relatedness) that is commonly accepted as the three main necessities an individual needs to be motivated. Focusing on our strengths, which we learned from taking the VIA Strengths Survey, can facilitate aspects of the PERMA model. Identifying our strengths will lead to positive emotion, can help us feel a sense of accomplishment, and may aid us in becoming better at engaging with others and maintaining meaningful relationships.
I’m a huge supporter of the practice of promoting our individual strengths instead of focusing our attention on what’s “wrong” with us. While I do think self-reflection is very important and I deeply appreciate acknowledging our weaknesses and consciously and intentionally working to get better and grow, I don’t think this necessary growth can be stimulated by drawing attention to the negatives first and approaching our weaknesses as problems that are hindering our well-being and mental health (because depending on the individual that may or may not be the case!)
The reason I scored flourishing on the Keyes’ scale is because of the intentional activity I’ve done to get there. For years, I’ve been working on my own mental health to make it as good as it can be. Learning about the different things we’ve covered in SOH has only affirmed my commitment to my own mental health and has given me tools to help others in cultivating their own.