Just one question is enough to get a general idea of someone’s future mental health.
It is: “In general, would you say that your mental health is excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?”
Surprisingly, around 60% of people who are depressed nevertheless rate their mental health as ‘good’.
One year later people who were positive about their mental health were less likely to be in serious psychological distress, even without any treatment.
Good mental health is about more than just a lack of symptoms, it includes being able to cope with life, having meaningful relationships and feeling purposeful.
A rating of ‘fair’ or ‘poor’ could suggest that some help would be beneficial.
Dr Sirry Alang, study co-author, said:
“Self-rated mental health is a very powerful construct that can be useful in clinical practice if we consider it a potential screener for mental health.
Positive ratings of mental health even in the face of symptoms might not be a result of denial but may offer valuable insights about a person’s ability to cope with their symptoms.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior (McAlpine et al., 2018).