What is the Most Important Predictor for Healthy Mental Health?

We know that hope is important for our mental health. Americans, for example, hope for a cure for a deadly pandemic, or a better future for their children. Hope can be both tangible and amorphous. While many of us feel hopeless these days, recent polls indicate that Americans remain hopeful despite the polarization and division in our country. Psychologists say hope is a necessity for mental health.

Lifestyle is an important factor in predicting psychological health and fewer mental health challenges. Lifestyle choices such as non-smoking, physical activity, and regular social rhythms were found to significantly predict mental health. Interestingly, these lifestyle choices were also associated with improvements in mental health over a one-year period. But what are the most important predictors of healthy mental health? And how can we measure them?

While socioeconomic factors did not show a statistically significant relationship with high mental well-being, socioeconomic status was positively associated with high levels of mental health. Low income and unemployment were associated with reduced levels of happiness, while low levels of engagement in relational/recreative activities were positively related with mental health. And last but not least, relationships are important to mental health. These relationships should be explored in the next few years as they could help us build a better society.

Various lifestyle factors are associated with depression. Physical activity, diet, and sleep quality have been associated with lower depressive symptoms. However, the relationship between these lifestyle factors and mental health is still unclear. Therefore, lifestyle interventions that target all of these factors are necessary. Not only do these behaviors increase one’s well-being, but they also help to prevent the onset of depression. They are also effective at preventing depression in young adults.

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