Psychological well-being and health: what are the connections?

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Although psychologists have contributed greatly to our understanding of mental illness and mental disorders, far less is known about what it means to be psychologically healthy.

At the Australian Psychological Society’s 40th Annual Conference in Melbourne this week, Professor Carol Ryff from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, will discuss what psychological well-being entails.

“All sorts of positive feelings and actions contribute to the overall health of an individual.Having the sense that one's life is meaningful and has purpose, feeling closely connected to others, being able to manage daily challenges, having positive self-regard and a sense of growth and self-development over time, leads to a feeling of well-being.”

“Various aspects of well-being also vary depending on a person's age, gender, and educational status,” says Professor Ryff.

In her keynote presentation, Professor Ryff will address how these aspects of well-being may be linked to biology.

Evidence supports the argument that people who possess higher levels of well-being have lower stress hormones, better immune function, and lower cardiovascular risk than people who have impaired well-being.

“As such, good psychological health can be described as an important influence on maintaining good physical health, “ says Ryff.

“There are many psychological interventions available which are designed to improve the well-being of individuals who suffer from recurrent depression, thus increasing their overall general health,” concludes Professor Ryff.

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Professor Ryff is available for interview: contact Elaine Grant 0412 683 068.

The 40th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference from 28 September- 2 October at Crown Promenade, Melbourne, Australia.

Themed Past Reflections, Future Directions, the five-day program includes international scholars and psychologists, interactive workshops, themed days and streams provided by APS Colleges and Divisions, research papers and symposia and fora.