What is the Six-Factor Model of Psychological Well-Being?

Introduction

The Six-factor Model of Psychological Well-being is a theory developed by Carol Ryff which determines six factors which contribute to an individual’s psychological well-being, contentment, and happiness.

Psychological well-being consists of positive relationships with others, personal mastery, autonomy, a feeling of purpose and meaning in life, and personal growth and development. Psychological well-being is attained by achieving a state of balance affected by both challenging and rewarding life events.

Refer to Euthymia.

Measurement

The Ryff Scale of Measurement is a psychometric inventory consisting of two forms (either 54 or 84 items) in which respondents rate statements on a scale of 1 to 6, where 1 indicates strong disagreement and 6 indicates strong agreement. Ryff’s model is not based on merely feeling happy, but is based on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, “where the goal of life isn’t feeling good, but is instead about living virtuously”.

The Ryff Scale is based on six factors: autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Higher total scores indicate higher psychological well-being. Following are explanations of each criterion, and an example statement from the Ryff Inventory to measure each criterion.

  • Autonomy:
    • High scores indicate that the respondent is independent and regulates their behaviour independent of social pressures.
    • An example statement for this criterion is “I have confidence in my opinions, even if they are contrary to the general consensus”.
  • Environmental Mastery:
    • High scores indicate that the respondent makes effective use of opportunities and has a sense of mastery in managing environmental factors and activities, including managing everyday affairs and creating situations to benefit personal needs.
    • An example statement for this criterion is “In general, I feel I am in charge of the situation in which I live”.
  • Personal Growth:
    • High scores indicate that the respondent continues to develop, is welcoming to new experiences, and recognises improvement in behaviour and self over time.
    • An example statement for this criterion is “I think it is important to have new experiences that challenge how you think about yourself and the world”.
  • Positive Relations with Others:
    • High scores reflect the respondent’s engagement in meaningful relationships with others that include reciprocal empathy, intimacy, and affection.
    • An example statement for this criterion is “People would describe me as a giving person, willing to share my time with others”.
  • Purpose in Life:
    • High scores reflect the respondent’s strong goal orientation and conviction that life holds meaning.
    • An example statement for this criterion is “Some people wander aimlessly through life, but I am not one of them”.
  • Self-Acceptance:
    • High scores reflect the respondent’s positive attitude about his or her self.
    • An example statement for this criterion is “I like most aspects of my personality”

Applications and Research Findings

Contributing Factors

Positive Contributing Factors

Positive psychological well-being may emerge from numerous sources. A happy marriage is contributive, for example, as is a satisfying job or a meaningful relationship with another person. When marriages include forgiveness, optimistic expectations, positive thoughts about one’s spouse, and kindness, a marriage significantly improves psychological well-being. A propensity to unrealistic optimism and over-exaggerated self-evaluations can be useful. These positive illusions are especially important when an individual receives threatening negative feedback, as the illusions allow for adaptation in these circumstances to protect psychological well-being and self-confidence (Taylor & Brown, 1988). Optimism also can help an individual cope with stresses to their well-being.

Negative Contributing Factors

Psychological well-being can also be affected negatively, as is the case with a degrading and unrewarding work environment, unfulfilling obligations and unsatisfying relationships. Social interaction has a strong effect on well-being as negative social outcomes are more strongly related to well-being than are positive social outcomes. Childhood traumatic experiences diminish psychological well-being throughout adult life, and can damage psychological resilience in children, adolescents, and adults. Perceived stigma also diminished psychological well-being, particularly stigma in relation to obesity and other physical ailments or disabilities.

Extrinsic and Intrinsic Psychological Needs

A study conducted in the early 1990s exploring the relationship between well-being and those aspects of positive functioning that were put forth in Ryff’s model indicates that persons who aspired more for financial success relative to affiliation with others or their community scored lower on various measures of well-being.

Individuals that strive for a life defined by affiliation, intimacy, and contributing to one’s community can be described as aspiring to fulfil their intrinsic psychological needs. In contrast, those individuals who aspire for wealth and material, social recognition, fame, image, or attractiveness can be described as aiming to fulfil their extrinsic psychological needs. The strength of an individual’s intrinsic (relative to extrinsic) aspirations as indicated by rankings of importance correlates with an array of psychological outcomes. Positive correlations have been found with indications of psychological well-being: positive affect, vitality, and self-actualisation. Negative correlations have been found with indicators of psychological ill-being: negative affect, depression, and anxiety.

Relations with Others

A more recent study confirming Ryff’s notion of maintaining positive relations with others as a way of leading a meaningful life involved comparing levels of self-reported life satisfaction and subjective well-being (positive/negative affect). Results suggested that individuals whose actions had underlying eudaimonic tendencies as indicated by their self-reports (e.g. “I seek out situations that challenge my skills and abilities”) were found to possess higher subjective well-being and life satisfaction scores compared to participants who did not. Individuals were grouped according to their chosen paths/strategies to happiness as identified by their answers on an Orientation to Happiness Questionnaire. The questionnaire describes and differentiates individuals on the basis of three orientations to happiness which can be pursued, though some individuals do not pursue any. The “pleasure” orientation describes a path to happiness that is associated with adopting hedonistic life goals to satisfy only one’s extrinsic needs. Engagement and meaning orientations describe a pursuit of happiness that integrates two positive psychology constructs “flow/engagement” and “eudaimonia/meaning”. Both of the latter orientations are also associated with aspiring to meet intrinsic needs for affiliation and community and were amalgamated by Anić and Tončić into a single “eudaimonic” path to happiness that elicited high scores on all measures of well-being and life satisfaction. Importantly, she also produced scales for assessing mental health. This factor structure has been debated, but has generated much research in wellbeing, health, and successful ageing.

Heritability

Individual differences in both overall Eudaimonia, identified loosely with self-control and in the facets of eudaimonia are heritable. Evidence from one study supports 5 independent genetic mechanisms underlying the Ryff facets of this trait, leading to a genetic construct of eudaimonia in terms of general self-control, and four subsidiary biological mechanisms enabling the psychological capabilities of purpose, agency, growth, and positive social relations.

Well-Being Therapy

According to Seligman, positive interventions to attain positive human experience should not be at the expense of disregarding human suffering, weakness, and disorder. A therapy based on Ryff’s six elements was developed by Fava and others in this regards.

What are the Components of Good Mental Well-Being?

Outline

The components of good mental well-being include:

  • Connecting with Others.
  • Remaining Active.
  • Continuing to Learn.
  • Giving to Others.
  • Being Mindful.
  • Being Able to Express Emotions.
  • Being Able to Cope with Stress.
  • Being Adaptable in Times of Change.
  • Being Confident and Having Good Self-Esteem.
  • Being Productive.

Connecting with Others

It is argued that this is the most important aspect of good mental well-being, as it enables individuals to feel part of their community or their own support group, knowing that they have somewhere to turn in times of need and that they are able to help others as well.

Making new friends into adulthood helps individuals to feel wanted and liked and this is beneficial for their confidence and self-esteem.

Remaining Active

Stating both mentally and physically active helps individuals to remain well in both of these areas, with the link between good mental and good physical health being clearly established.

Individuals who are physically well may be less likely to develop mental health issues related to long-term illness, and the benefits of exercise helps boost the release of ‘happy hormones’ such as serotonin, which enhance mood and make individuals feel good.

Continuing to Learn

It is recommended that people never stop learning, and this should continue even into late adulthood.

Learning a new skill or information about a new subject is not only useful for ongoing cognitive functioning but it can help people to remain social as well, such as by attending a college course or a book club where there are lots of opportunities to connect with other people.

Giving to Others

Any form of giving to other people is mutually beneficial; that is to say that the person giving to others feels good about themselves and the person receiving what is given fells good as well.

Giving to others may mean being active in the community, such as doing volunteer work, or it can mean doing charity events, such as sponsored walks or collecting items for a local food bank.

Being Mindful

mindfulness means that a person is able to live in the present moment without worrying about what is coming in the future or what has happened in the past.

It enables people to focus solely on what is happening in their current surroundings and is thought to be an excellent way of reducing stress and anxiety, which can be the foundation of some forms of mental ill health.

Being Able to Express Emotions

Most people will have heard the saying that it is better to speak up about something than to keep things ‘bottled up’.

When people are unable to express their emotions effectively, this can mean that they eventually become overwhelmed by their feelings, and this can lead to stress, anxiety, depression and other difficulties that may prevent them from going about their daily activities.

Being Able to Cope with Stress

The concept of resilience is closely linked to being able to cope with stress.

Resilience enables individuals to react positively in the face of adversity and to find a way of moving forwards that is not detrimental to their mental health.

Being Adaptable in Times of Change

Resilience is also linked to being able to cope successfully when there are changes in life.

This can be a minor change such as having to move to a different office at work, or a major change like moving house, losing a loved one, or being diagnosed with a serious illness.

Being Confident and Having Good Self-Esteem

Being confident and having a high level of self-esteem helps individuals to feel good about themselves. which enables them to connect with others, make positive decisions, and be resilient when times become challenging.

Being Productive

Being productive within a community, family, or workplace helps individuals to feel good about themselves, increases their self-esteem, and can help them to connect with others as well.

It also gives individuals a sense of achievement. which helps increase confidence and gives individuals a positive outlook for the future.

Is the Mental Wellbeing of Doctors Becoming an Increasing Concern?

Research Paper Title

Depressive symptoms in residents of a tertiary training hospital in Malaysia: The prevalence and associated factors.

Background

The mental wellbeing of doctors is becoming an increasing concern in the world today.

In Malaysia, residency is a challenging period in a doctor’s life, with many changes professionally and possibly in their personal lives as well.

This study aims to determine the prevalence of depressive symptoms and the socio-demographic correlates among residents in a tertiary training hospital in Malaysia.

It is a cross sectional study and all residents were approached to participate in the study.

Methods

The instruments used were a socio-demographic questionnaire and the Patient Health Questionnaire 9 (PHQ-9).

Chi-square test was used to explore the association between the socio-demographic correlates, and those that were found to have significant associations were further tested using multivariate logistic regression.

Results

The prevalence of depression among residents was 25.1 %. Longer working hours, missing meals, and working in Department of Surgery and Department of Anaesthesia was significantly positively associated while having protected study time, CME/lectures, leisure/hobbies and exercise were negatively associated with depression.

The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine had a significantly negative association with depression. After logistic regression, longer working hours and a lack of protected study time was significantly associated with depression in the respective departments.

Conclusions

In summary, the prevalence of depression among residents is high and is associated with longer working hours, missing meals and a lack of protected study time are significantly associated with depression.

Remedial steps should be taken to improve the mental health among residents.

Reference

Nair, N., Ng, C.G. & Sulaiman, A.H. (2021) Depressive symptoms in residents of a tertiary training hospital in Malaysia: The prevalence and associated factors. Asian Journal of Psychiatry. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2021.102548. Online ahead of print.

The Truth About … Improving Your Mental Health (2021)

Introduction

Professor Tanya Byron and Alex Scott uncover the latest science on how to improve your mental health and wellbeing – and reveal some surprising new techniques.

Part of the BBC’s The Truth About series (you can currently view all episodes on the BBC iPlayer).

Outline

Clinical psychologist Professor Tanya Byron teams up with former England footballer Alex Scott, who has suffered from depression, to discover how the latest science can help us gain greater control over our state of mind and improve our mental health and wellbeing.

Even in normal times, one in four of us will experience mental health difficulties, but living through a global pandemic has put our mental health under unprecedented strain. Over the past year, a team from Imperial College London, in collaboration with the BBC, have surveyed the mental health of over 350,000 people across the UK. This unique study provides a snapshot before and during the pandemic, revealing its shocking impact.

Production & Filming Details

  • Presenter(s): Tanya Byron and Alex Scott.
  • Director(s): Ruhi Hamid.
  • Producer(s):
    • Matthew Barrett … series producer (as Matt Barrett).
    • Tom Coveney … commissioning editor.
    • Fay Finlay … assistant producer.
    • Ruhi Hamid … producer (produced by).
    • Christine Johnston … producer: Cohort.
    • Mairead Maclean … assistant producer.
    • Jane McLaughlin … talent executive.
    • Paul Overton … executive producer.
    • Jacqueline Smith … executive producer.
  • Writer(s): Claudia Lewis (developed by).
  • Music:
  • Cinematography:
  • Editor(s): Clyde Wallbanks and Lauri White.
  • Production:
  • Distributor(s): BBC One.
  • Release Date: 20 January 2021 (UK).
  • Running Time: 57 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

Book: Design for Wellbeing

Book Title:

Design for Wellbeing – An Applied Approach.

Author(s): Ann Petermans and Rebecca Cain (Editors).

Year: 2019.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Routledge.

Type(s): Hardcover and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Design for Wellbeing charts the development and application of design research to improve the personal and societal wellbeing and happiness of people. It draws together contributions from internationally leading academics and designers to demonstrate the latest thinking and research on the design of products, technologies, environments, services and experiences for wellbeing.

  • Part I starts by conceptualising wellbeing and takes an in-depth look at the rise of the design for wellbeing movement.
  • Part II then goes on to demonstrate design for wellbeing in practice through a broad range of domains from products and environments to services. Among others, we see emerging trends in the design of interiors and urban spaces to support wellbeing, designing to enable and support connectedness and social interaction, and designing for behaviour change to tackle unhealthy eating behaviour in children. Significantly, the body of work on subjective wellbeing, design for happiness, is increasing, and several case studies are provided on this, demonstrating how design can contribute to support the wellbeing of people.
  • Part III provides practical guidance for designing for wellbeing through a range of examples of tools, methods and approaches, which are highly user-centric, participatory, critical and speculative.
  • Finally, the book concludes in Part IV with a look at future challenges for design for wellbeing.

This book provides students, researchers and practitioners with a detailed assessment of design for wellbeing, taking a distinctive global approach to design practice and theory in context. Design for Wellbeing concerns designers and organisations but also defines its broader contribution to society, culture and economy.

What does mental health have to do with well-being?

Research Paper Title

What does mental health have to do with well-being?

Background

Positive mental health involves not the absence of mental disorder but rather the presence of certain mental goods.

Institutions, practitioners, and theorists often identify positive mental health with well-being.

There are strong reasons, however, to keep the concepts of well-being and positive mental health separate.

Someone with high positive mental health can have low well-being, someone with high well-being can have low positive mental health, and well-being and positive mental health sometimes conflict.

But, while positive mental health and well-being are not identical, there is an informative conceptual connection between them.

Positive mental health usually contributes instrumentally to the living of a good human life, where a good human life includes (but is not limited to) well-being.

Reference

Keller, S. (2020) What does mental health have to do with well-being? Bioethics. 34(3), pp.228-234. doi: 10.1111/bioe.12702. Epub 2019 Nov 29.

Book: SNAP Matters

Book Title:

Snap Matters – How Food Stamps Affect Health And Well-Being (Studies in Social Inequality).

Author(s): Judith Bartfield, Craig Gundersen, Timothy Smeeding, and James P. Ziliak (Editors).

Year: 2015.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Stanford University Press.

Type(s): Hardcover, Paperback, and Kindle.

Synopsis:

In 1963, President Kennedy proposed making permanent a small pilot project called the Food Stamp Programme (FSP). By 2013, the programme’s fiftieth year, more than one in seven Americans received benefits at a cost of nearly $80 billion. Renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP) in 2008, it currently faces sharp political pressure, but the social science research necessary to guide policy is still nascent.

In SNAP Matters, Judith Bartfeld, Craig Gundersen, Timothy M. Smeeding, and James P. Ziliak bring together top scholars to begin asking and answering the questions that matter. For example, what are the antipoverty effects of SNAP? Does SNAP cause obesity? Or does it improve nutrition and health more broadly? To what extent does SNAP work in tandem with other programmes, such as school breakfast and lunch? Overall, the volume concludes that SNAP is highly responsive to macroeconomic pressures and is one of the most effective antipoverty programmes in the safety net, but the volume also encourages policymakers, students, and researchers to continue examining this major pillar of social assistance in America.

What is the Intergenerational Impact of War on Mental Health & Psychosocial Wellbeing?

Research Paper Title

The intergenerational impact of war on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing: lessons from the longitudinal study of war-affected youth in Sierra Leone.

Background

Globally, one in four children lives in a country affected by armed conflict or disaster often accompanied by exposure to a range of adversities including violent trauma and loss. Children involved with armed groups (often referred to as “child soldiers”) typically exhibit high levels of mental health needs linked to their experiences.

The Longitudinal Study of War-Affected Youth (LSWAY) in Sierra Leone is a seventeen-year prospective longitudinal study of the long-term effects of children’s experiences in the country’s eleven-year (1991-2002) civil war on their adult mental health and functioning in addition to exploring the potential mechanisms by which intergenerational transmission of emotional and behavioral disruptions due to war trauma may operate.

LSWAY illuminates how war-related and post-conflict experiences shape long-term adult functioning, family dynamics, and developmental outcomes in offspring

Discussion

The LSWAY study utilises mixed methodologies that incorporate qualitative and quantitative data to unpack risk and protective factors involved in social reintegration, psychosocial adjustment, parenting, and interpersonal relationships.

To date, study findings demonstrate striking levels of persistent mental health problems among former child soldiers as adults with consequences for their families, but also risk and protective patterns that involve family- and community-level factors.

This case study examines the course of LSWAY from inception through implementation and dissemination, including building on the study results to design and evaluate several intervention models.

Conclusions

The case study offers a unique perspective on challenges and field realities of health research in a fragile, post-conflict setting common in the context of humanitarian emergencies.

LSWAY findings along with lessons learned from the field can inform future research as well as intervention research and implementation science to address the mental health and development of war-affected young people.

With four waves of data collection and a planned fifth wave, LSWAY also provides rare insights into the intergenerational effects of humanitarian crises on children, youth, and families across generations.

Reference

Betancourt, T.S., Keegan, K., Farrar, J. & Brennan, R.T. (2020) The intergenerational impact of war on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing: lessons from the longitudinal study of war-affected youth in Sierra Leone. Conflict and Health. 14:62. doi: 10.1186/s13031-020-00308-7. eCollection 2020.

Book: The Wellness Sense

Book Title:

The Wellness Sense – A Practical Guide to your Physical and Emotional Health based on Ayurvedic and Yogic Wisdom.

Author(s): Om Swami.

Year: 2015.

Edition: First (1ed).

Publisher: Black Lotus.

Type(s): Paperback, Audiobook, and Kindle.

Synopsis:

Why do certain foods harm some people and help others? How come the same weight loss program shows different results on different individuals? And, why do some people fall sick more often than others?

Answers to these questions and many more lie in Ayurveda where your body is not just looked upon a holder of flesh and bones but the finest vehicle of experiencing all pleasures and sorrows.

In Ayurveda, as in yoga and tantra, the health of an individual is not just the state of his physical body but an aggregate of the body, senses, mind and soul. Your body is a sacred space, it is the seat of your consciousness.

The Sanskrit word for health is svasthya; it means self-dependence or a sound state of the body and mind. If examined further, it means your natural state; sva means natural and sthya means state or place.

Ayurveda aims to restore your natural state, balance so you may be free of mental and physical afflictions.

More often than not, and certainly in adults, most physical disorders are the result of a repressed and bruised consciousness. Mental afflictions create diseases in the physical body and physical diseases, in turn, disturb the state of mind.

You can treat the disease in the physical body but that’s merely treating the symptom. It is not the permanent solution.

The modern system of medicine is mostly symptom driven. If I have a headache, it’ll tell me to take a pain-killer. Ayurveda does not believe in treating the symptoms. Its advocates understanding the patient and treating the cause of the symptom and not the symptom itself.

In order to do that, the ancient scriptures took a far more holistic approach to health by combining our lifestyle with our natural tendencies (which vary from one person to another). In other words, it understood that one man’s medicine could be another man’s poison.

Expounding on the esoteric aspects of the ancient wisdom, in simple terms, this book shows you how to take care of yourself better and how to lead a healthier life in our present world – a world where we have all the comforts yet we are restless.

We have organic breakfast on the table but no time to eat it, we have the comfiest mattress but little sleep. The key to wholesome living and your well-being is entirely in your hands. This book is a must read for those who are serious about their health.

What Does Mental Health Have to Do With Well-Being?

Research Paper Title

What Does Mental Health Have to Do With Well-Being?

Background

Positive mental health involves not the absence of mental disorder but rather the presence of certain mental goods.

Institutions, practitioners, and theorists often identify positive mental health with well-being.

There are strong reasons, however, to keep the concepts of well-being and positive mental health separate.

Someone with high positive mental health can have low well-being, someone with high well-being can have low positive mental health, and well-being and positive mental health sometimes conflict.

But, while positive mental health and well-being are not identical, there is an informative conceptual connection between them.

Positive mental health usually contributes instrumentally to the living of a good human life, where a good human life includes (but is not limited to) well-being.

Reference

Keller, S. (2020) What Does Mental Health Have to Do With Well-Being? Bioethics. 34(3), pp.228-234. doi: 10.1111/bioe.12702. Epub 2019 Nov 29.