»Progress in mental health requires combining etiological and treatment research.«

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Margraf

Mechanisms of mental disorders across the life span

Macrosocial factors, social media and mental health

The working group is dedicated to the social side of mental health – a neglected but important topic. Whole populations are at higher risk of mental disorders because of adverse social, economic, and environmental conditions. The disadvantage begins before birth and is accumulated over the lifespan. Understanding and modifying these disparities requires looking at the impact of social determinants.

Julia Brailovskaia coordinates the “Bochum Optimism and Mental Health (BOOM)”-Project. Together with international research colleagues, she investigates the risk and protective factors of mental health in longitudinal and experimental studies. Her main research focus is on the relationships between mental health, suicide-related outcomes, personality and use of online media (especially media addiction). She works on methods to reduce the negative effects of media use on mental health.


Bochum Optimism and Mental Health (BOOM)

The research program “Bochum Optimism and Mental Health (BOOM)” started in 2011. It is supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

The main aim of BOOM is the identification of causal protective and risk factors of positive mental health as well as depression, anxiety and stress symptoms. It contains intercultural and transcultural cross- and longitudinal studies in which potentially causally significant combinations of epidemiological, experimental psychological and intervention approaches are investigated. The dual-factor model of mental health which describes mental health and mental illness as two interrelated but separate unipolar dimensions is the theoretical basis of BOOM.

Since 2011, cross-sectional and longitudinal data of student (Germany, Russia, China) and representative (Germany, Russia, USA) samples are continuously collected and analyzed (total N ≈ 40,000). Various methodological approaches are used to clarify the influence of different research methods and to provide insights into the transcultural measurement invariance of the investigated constructs and instruments.

First results show that life satisfaction, resilience, optimism, subjective happiness and social support have a salutogenic effect cross-culturally, and at the same time act as a buffer against negative effects of stress and psychopathological symptoms.