Alright I get it. We are getting tired of all the charades and want a simple answer to our initial simple question, “What is mental health?” We are now at the final model and by the end of this one, we will know what mental health is. I think.
Mental Health as Resilience
It is another simple concept. If you can face stressful situations with low input, you are mentally healthy. But, much like other things, Occam’s razor doesn’t always hold true. Resilience is much like subjective happiness in that it offers a simple definition but fails when tested against scientific standards. How do we reliably measure resilience? There are so many ways of facing a stressful situation and how do we say that one method is healthy and the other isn’t.
This is again a model that needs more scientific backing and understanding. It too needs to stand the barrage of scientific scrutiny before we can say with certainty that mental health is resilience.
So, what is Mental Health? A conclusion
Finally, we get to the conclusion and can discuss what mental health is. The definition used by the WHO is one that derives from positive psychology. We saw that that definition had a lot of deficiencies as well. Right now, psychology needs an umbrella model that would take the good from these models and eliminate the drawbacks.
The definition also needs to be culturally universal and stand the tests of time. We also need to understand that the ability to work and maintain relationships over time is an important aspect of mental health. It is more important to look into the persistent feelings of depression/anxiety rather than the fleeting ones. In this context, the question, “How many jobs have you had since you turned 21?” is more meaningful than, “Where do you work now?”.
I have been yapping on and on for the past few days. It is both irritating and yet annoyingly wonderful to know that the answer is,
We don’t know for sure yet. There are many views and each model has some advantages over the others. We cannot say that one model is superior to the other. We can say, though, that we have an idea of where the answers will come from. As I said in the first post of this series,
The world of mental health is complicated. Even the concept of ‘mental health’ is complicated.
Mental Health, George E. Vaillant, M.D. (2003)