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Int J Public Health. 2012 Apr;57(2):421-30. doi: 10.1007/s00038-011-0317-x. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Measuring population mental health and social well-being.

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  • 1Health Promotion Research Centre, National University of Ireland, 16 Distillery Road, Galway, Ireland.



This paper examines the relationships between indicators of positive and negative dimensions of mental health, social well-being and physical health.


The paper reports on data collected in the third National Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition (SLÁN 2007), a cross-sectional survey conducted with a representative sample of 10,364 Irish adults. The survey included measures of positive mental health and non-specific psychological distress from the SF-36 questionnaire, together with measures of social well-being, subjective health, and selected health behaviours.


Positive mental health is predicted by lower levels of loneliness and higher levels of social support. Better self-rated health, positive health behaviours and lower GP consultation rates are associated with higher levels of positive mental health. Lower levels of social well-being, were found to be the strongest predictors of negative mental health.


Social well-being and health behaviours correlate with both positive and negative mental health. These findings highlight the need to endorse comprehensive approaches to population mental health promotion. The inclusion of both positive and negative mental health indicators in future population health surveys is supported by the findings.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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