Mental health and mental capital: using positive psychology to inform social work practice with older people

Li, Wendy, and Miller, Daniel J. (2014) Mental health and mental capital: using positive psychology to inform social work practice with older people. In: Francis, Abraham P., Pulla, Venkat, Clark, Michael, Mariscal, E. Susana, and Ponnuswami, Ilango, (eds.) Advancing Social Work in Mental Health through Strengths-Based Practice. Primrose Hall Publishing, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, pp. 120-130.

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This chapter seeks to bolster the reader's understanding of the factors that influence the mental well-being of older people. Older adulthood is a unique period in life with its own opportunities, but also its own challenges. Much like younger people, older people can suffer from mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. However, depression and anxiety in older age may manifest differently and impact functioning differently. For example, older people may be more prone to anxiety relating to growing older and/or becoming less physically and cognitively able. For these reasons, knowledge relating specifically to the mental health of older people is necessary for effective social work practice with older populations. Thus, the prevalence and potential causes of mental health issues in older age are discussed briefly in this chapter. While mental disorders are discussed, this chapter takes a strength based approach, focusing on positive psychology and the factors that act to promote mental capital and mental well-being among older people. A major assumption of positive psychology is that individuals have the capacity to promote their own mental well-being and the mental well-being of others by developing and enhancing mental capital. Mental capital can be thought of as the emotional and cognitive resources available to the person to deal with environmental challenges. Psychological resilience and proactive coping strategies are important aspects of mental capital. Research suggests that these factors enable the individual to maintain, recover and improve in mental and physical health following challenges. In this way, resilience and proactive coping strategies help to engender mental well-being in older age. The chapter concludes by discussing how knowledge regarding resilience and proactive coping can be applied to social work practice to better cater to the needs of older clients.

Item ID: 33917
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-312-23230-3
Keywords: ageing, positive psychology, resilience, mental well-being
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2014 05:17
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170102 Developmental Psychology and Ageing @ 60%
17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170113 Social and Community Psychology @ 40%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 100%
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