Monday, April 11, 2011

Psychological well being

Psychological well being  refers to the effectiveness of individual’s interactions and their relationships to others. People’s lives, communities, and societies are shaped by a combination of individual factors, social factors, and the interaction between the two.

Psychological well being refers to levels by which survivors are able to guide and take charge of their lives, moving beyond the disaster. It consists of a number of factors, which include a sense of control and a sense of being an active part of family and community networks, of engaging in active planning, and a sense of being able to manage the physical and psychological support and threat. These factors are psychosocial and interrelated in the sense that they are influenced by social and cultural factors as well as individual experiences. Each individual becomes a product as well as a contributor to the culture and its relationships to other cultures.

Psychological well being guides individuals as they interact with their external and internal realities. All individuals are engaged in resource exchange, resource enhancement, or resource diminution. Survivors tend to be involved in an exchange with other survivors, which include taking as well as giving.

Human beings use their individual experiences to construct their lives, identities, and relationships to their context. A person’s private experience occurs in a context with a meaning that is somewhat socially constituted, so they also have a social as well as an individual character. Psychological well being is contextual in the sense that communities have an active part in defining their needs and determining when those needs are met.

Figure 1: Overt behaviors and actions to achieve well-being

Overt Behavior


Community identifies the emotional tools to handle the adverse effects of a disaster

Support groups are trained and have a readiness to assist disaster affected people.

Community develops the tools to rebuild.

Teams have been identified and trained
to conduct assessment, clean up, rebooting infrastructure and psychological first aid.

Members have identified activities to improve the quality of life

Ecological plans are ready to implement even if resources are scarce.

Show ability to use social capital

Community social capital identified and assigned to work groups.

Community is inclusive of all members.
Open dialogue and shared responsibilities with all segments of the community.

Community members are knowledgeable of the five steps to resolve crisis.

All members have received training in psychological first aid. Activities are held without negative effects.

Improve economic well being through community planned projects

Ability to plan, develop, monitor and evaluate local projects

Community members are able to improve community health

Members of the community are trained in physical first aid, and principles of safe water.

Community members report that they live in a secure place

Disaster affected people have developed mutual support networks, and protocols that assure safety in the community.

Psychological well-being is the integration and transformation of knowledge about persons and community networks, about patterns of behaviors, relationships, values, practices and attitudes within a specific context that allows planning, implementation, and evaluation of community activities and projects that foster a sense of place and psychological well being.  

Psychological well being provides a guide for understanding and contributing in a variety of ways to the well being of individuals, communities and their interactions. It suggest that there may be ways for attaining particularly facilitative psychosocial attributes that can be developed for psychological well being and that there may also be a range beyond which psychosocial attributes cannot vary without producing detrimental personal and social effects. Identification of these limits and possibilities can benefit individuals and communities experiencing disaster related stressors, realizing their inner strengths and establishing supportive environments.

Bradburn, N.M. (1969). The structure of psychological well-being. Chicago, Illinois: Aldine Publishers & Co.
Jahoda,  M. (1958).  Current Concepts of Positive Mental Health. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Coelho, G., Hamburg, DA, & Adams, JE (Eds.). (1974). Coping and adaptation. New York: Basic Books.
Tyler, F.B.  (2001). Cultures, communities, competence and change. New York, NY: Plenum Publishers.

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