Just like the lack of dissatisfaction doesn’t equal satisfaction, the lack of mental illness doesn’t equal mental health. So, what does complete mental health entails? It’s a combination of a few basic personality traits and mindsets that allow us to be completely mentally healthy. Call them big five or consider them under Positive Personality Model (PPM) traits, they are all about how we approach people, our emotions, new experiences, and past commitments.
Gone are the days when mental well-being and sickness were two extremes of the same spectrum. Nowadays, it is commonly accepted among mental health professionals and common people with awareness of this life-area that mental well-being is not the opposite of mental pathology.
In simple words, one can be free of any mental illness yet can miss out on the quality of life that comes with complete mental illness.
The five traits which define personality are often credit for the level of mental health or mental illness one enjoys in his life. Abbreviated as OCEAN under Five-Factor Model (FFM), they are sprightliness, moderation, humanity, integrity, and serenity under PPM.
This Argentina-based study explores how these traits correlate to the state of complete mental health as well as a state of mental illness.
The study explored:
If there is a relationship between positive personality traits and mental health or illness;
How positive personality traits appear in different clusters of Dual factor model; and
If PPM can be used as a prediction tool for assigning subjects to these clusters.
The study investigated 1502 Argentinians using the tools of Positive Traits Inventory-5, Symptoms Checklist 90 Revised, and Mental Health Continuum- Short Form.
Results showed that there was a strong positive correlation between sprightliness and complete mental health and a strong negative correlation between this trait and mental illness. Other traits, including serenity, humanity, integrity, and moderation were moderately positively correlated to mental well-being and moderately negatively correlated to mental illness.
The results also showed that there is the strongest correlation between complete mental health and high levels of sprightliness, serenity, integrity, and moderation among all groups specified above. Troubled clusters showed the lowest levels of these traits, unsurprisingly. At the same time, the groups of complete mental well-being and symptomatic but content shared similar levels of humanity (aka extraversion in the OCEAN model).
Another conclusion of this study pointed out that these traits (the trait of moderation an exception here) are highly predictable about the level of mental health and mental illness one bears. One key factor that determined if a person would lie in complete mental health versus symptomatic but content or vulnerable group is sprightliness. Integrity and humanity may influence the subject to fall in less desired quarters in the above comparison.
Overall, the study found that these traits have a higher predictability score when it comes to foretelling the complete mental health of a person.
The impact of sprightliness or openness to experiences appears to be a major force in the mental health of an individual. Extraversion doesn’t seem to enjoy the same level of significance the society tends to give it.
In the end, these relations are highly accurate as we can see they enjoy high predictability scores.
de la Iglesia, G., & Castro Solano, A. (2019). Positive personality model: Which traits relate to complete mental health as conceived by the Dual Factor Model?. Psychological Thought, 12(2), 202-213. doi: 10.5964/psyct.v12i2.377