» Understanding mental disorder requires understanding mental health. «

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Margraf

Positive mental health across the life span

Predictive power of positive mental health

Positive mental health (PMH) is more than the absence of mental disorder: Elements of both can coexist – they are correlated, but partially independent. Combining cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, we investigated the predictive power of PMH as well as depression, anxiety and stress in a transcultural research program (China, Germany, Russia, USA, total N≈40,000). Across cultures, PMH is a major buffer against the pathogenic effects of daily stress and negative social influences and a strong predictor of the remission of emotional disorders and suicidal behavior above and beyond all other variables. Substantial transcultural differences point to divergent trajectories of mental health across the life-span (e.g., increasing in Germany, decreasing in Russia). Moreover, differences in personal values are related to mental health in meaningful ways. Overall, longitudinal analyses show that salutogenic factors (overall PMH as well as resilience, optimism, happiness, social support, self-efficacy) positively influence both overall well-being and mental problems.