Determinants of positive mental health in adolescents: a cross-sectional study on relationships between positive mental health, self-esteem, character strengths and social inclusion

Hanna Ahrnberg, Kaija Appelqvist-Schmidlechner, Pekka Mustonen, Sari Fröjd, Katja Aktan-Collan

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Abstract

Adolescence is a crucial time period with especial vulnerability for development of mental health problems. Growing interest is focusing on the determinants of positive mental health in order to find the key concepts that could be influenced in the promotion of mental well-being of adolescents. In this study we aim to explore the relations between self-esteem, character strengths and experience of social inclusion as determinants of adolescents’ positive mental health controlled for selected sociodemographic background factors. The study population (n = 195) consisted of comprehensive school students who filled in an electronic questionnaire of adolescent’s mental well-being in Fall 2019. The questionnaire included measures of Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS), VIA Youth-measure 96, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and Experience of Social Inclusion Scale. The methods included group comparisons and General Linear Model computed by SPSS 24.0. The strongest association was found between positive mental health and self-esteem (β = 0.789, p < 0.001), followed by character strengths of hope and kindness and experience of social inclusion. Interestingly, family’s socioeconomic factors did not associate significantly with positive mental health in the final statistical model. In terms of our results, it seems that self-esteem, character strengths and experience of social inclusion might have stronger association with adolescents’ mental well-being than family’s socioeconomic determinants. Therefore, it should be discussed whether psychological determinants overcome the individual effect of poor socioeconomic status as factors that influence positive mental health. Further studies are needed to establish these results more firmly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-374
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Promotion
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Character strengths
  • Mental well-being
  • Positive mental health
  • Self-esteem
  • Social inclusion

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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