Resilience : An Important concept in Mental Health

Resilience involves various factors that may be biological, social, and environmental in nature. Resilience is involved in the development of positive psychological characteristics that in fact causes strengthening of one’s personality.

Human beings have the innate capacity to protect themselves when in stress. It is here that the concept of resilience emerges as a protective factor. There have been a number of scientific studies that have looked at resilience as a characteristic which is genetic in nature and also a feature that can be modified by training and intervention.

Active coping is a lifelong acquired ability to utilize psychological and behavioural resources to cope with trauma and stress.

Human cognition (thinking, memory and learning) is designed to adapt to rising challenges that comes in life. Cognitive flexibility (adaptability) allows a person to dynamically adjust to external demands and deal with trauma.The social environment of the individual greatly impacts resilience since it allows positive response from family members and close ones when confronted with challenges or threats.

The neuroscience of resilience is beginning to uncover the brain cells, brain circuits and chemical molecules that protect against stress and foster the development of resilience. Chemical changes in the brain and physical hormonal changes occurring in response to trauma and stress may lead to changes in the brain and cause impairment of judgement and thinking at that stage.

It has been established above that there is a strong link between resilience and psychological problems as well as psychiatric disorders.

There is some evidence that resilience is lower among people who develop a psychiatric disorder, while good resilience may prevent this development.The number of stressful or traumatic events one undergoes significantly decreases the level of resilience and may contribute to the development of anxiety and depression.

The pathways to resilience for positive outcome are multidimensional and complex. Multiple factors converge in the genesis, maintenance and loss of resilience.

Treatment programs that utilise resilience require a dynamic partnership across health and non-health sectors. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals should collaborate in developing policies and interventions to bolster resilience.

Such intervention should span across life like support for parents of infants, early childhood intervention programs, school-based interventions, workplace/unemployment programs, and activity programs for older adults.

We must all work together in families and within the community at large to improve the resilience of our nation in wake of so many stressful events that unfold today.

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