2012 issue 4


Volume 21, issue 4

World Psychiatry Forum

Positive mental health: is there a cross-cultural definition?

George E. Vaillant1
1. Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, 151 Merrimac Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2012; 21(4): 229–250
Keywords: positive mental health, maturity, resilience, coping mechanisms, subjective well-being, emotional intelligence, positive emotions


Seven models for conceptualizing positive mental health are reviewed: mental health as above normal, epitomized by a DSM-IV's Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) score of over 80; mental health as the presence of multiple human strengths rather than the absence of weaknesses; mental health conceptualized as maturity; mental health as the dominance of positive emotions; mental health as high socio-emotional intelligence; mental health as subjective well-being; mental health as resilience. Safeguards for the study of mental health are suggested, including the need to define mental health in terms that are culturally sensitive and inclusive, and the need to empirically and longitudinally validate criteria for mental health.