How can psychology improve mental health?

Psychologists can help people learn to cope with stressful situations, overcome addictions, manage their chronic illnesses, and perform tests and evaluations that can help diagnose a condition or provide more information about the way a person thinks, feels and behaves. Studying psychology can in itself be a great healing tool, as it increases self-awareness and helps you address your anxieties and the anxieties of those around you. With the advent of positive psychology, there has been a significant change in the approach to mental health research and practice. Positive psychology recognizes happiness and well-being as “essential human skills” (Davidson et al. Positive psychology researchers have devised measures such as the Psychological Wellbeing Scale and the Happiness Scale that objectively measure how satisfied a person is with their life.

With the advent of these psychological well-being measures, mental health professionals found a strong reason to shift their focus from problems to solutions. Psychologists provide psychotherapy, a treatment that in many cases is just as, if not more, effective than drug therapy. Cognitive and interpersonal psychotherapies, for example, are effective treatments for depression. Psychotherapy, as an alternative to pharmacotherapy, is particularly valuable for elderly patients to avoid overmedication or the side effects of various drugs and drug interactions.

Psychotherapy is effective alone or in combination with medication to treat a wide range of mental disorders, including anxiety disorders (such as panic, obsessive-compulsive and post-traumatic stress disorders), depression, substance or alcohol abuse, and many other disorders that can devastate a person's personal, family, social, and work life. Psychologists use a variety of methods to help people in different situations. A common approach is psychotherapy, which is a type of talk therapy to help people cope with symptoms and improve their well-being. Individual psychological and biological factors, such as emotional abilities, substance use and genetics, can make people more vulnerable to mental health problems.

Mental health promotion seeks to promote individual competencies, resources and psychological strengths, and to strengthen community assets to prevent mental disorders and improve the well-being and quality of life of individuals and communities. 1—4 Positive psychology is the study of those competencies and resources, or what is “right” about people, their positive attributes, psychological assets, and strengths. 5 Its mission is to understand and promote the factors that enable individuals, communities, and societies thrive, 5,6 Complements theories and models of individual, community, and organizational deficits with asset theories and models, 7 Positive psychology offers new approaches to reinforce psychological resilience and promote mental health and, therefore, can improve efforts to promote health in general and to promote mental health specifically, 1—4,7—10. Health psychologists apply psychological research and methods to the prevention and treatment of diseases, the promotion and maintenance of health, the identification of psychological factors that contribute to physical illness, the improvement of the health system and the formulation of health policies. Positive psychology doesn't claim that conventional psychology is negative or less important because it focuses on pathology and mental illness.

Rehabilitation psychology is a clinical specialty applied to professional psychology that deals with the treatment and science of chronic and disabling health conditions. While clinical psychology delves into the root cause of illness to help a person recover, positive psychology delves into the root causes of happiness that can help a person protect themselves from negative experiences. The APA promotes psychologically healthy workplaces by rewarding best practices as part of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Awards Program. Positive psychology is the study of what is “right” in people: their positive attributes, psychological assets, and strengths.

Although historically, the practice of clinical psychology was mainly limited to people seeking help and to those who already had mental health problems, positive psychology extends to everyone, to those who have a clinical diagnosis or not. Counseling psychology is a specialty in the field of psychology in which professionals help individuals, as individuals and groups, to improve their well-being, alleviate their distress, resolve their crises, and increase their capacity to solve problems and make decisions. Positive psychology emerged after a good deal of debate and misunderstanding about how well it can coexist with clinical or health psychology. Asset-based positive psychology paradigms offer new approaches to reinforcing psychological resilience and promoting mental health. Clinical psychology is the application of psychological knowledge and skills, research and intervention techniques to health and illness, particularly in related to mental health.

The American Psychological Association defines clinical psychology as “a clinical discipline that involves the provision of diagnostic, evaluation, treatment plan, treatment, prevention and consultation services to patients in emergency rooms, inpatient units and hospital clinics. Mental health promotion and positive psychology offer the public (an updated way of thinking about mental health that provides the richness of the human experience), (additional ways to describe and value the full spectrum of mental health) to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and to initiate conversations about mental health (100) (improved psychological testing) 101 and individual, community and social interventions (based on evidence) that can improve positive mental health.

Lucy Williams
Lucy Williams

Subtly charming pop culture scholar. Subtly charming social media scholar. Avid travel junkie. Web junkie. Unapologetic social media maven. Wannabe music lover.

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