What is Resilience?
In its simplest form, resilience can be defined as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or even significant sources of stress”. In essence, resilience is our ability to ‘bounce back’ when faced with challenges.
Why is resilience important for mental health?
Resilience is key to help us overcome adversity and maintain good mental health in the face of challenges that we will all face in our lifetime, such as bereavement or unemployment. Adversity can be extreme, for example the war in Ukraine and the chronic stress, anxiety and forced migration this is causing civilians. Adversity increases risk of developing a mental illness; however, research has found incidence of mental illness to be reduced in those who are resilient.
Why are some people more resilient than others?
While many individuals are mentally resistant to the repercussions of traumatic events, many people will develop chronic, debilitating mental disorders that reduce their quality of life and daily functioning. Why some people are more resilient than others is a complex question with several factors to consider, including:
- Political/Social landscape: Social and political systems differ in terms of their capability to support and promote the psychological wellbeing of groups and individuals. For example, the current resilience of Ukrainian armed forces and civilians is in part being supported by a strong government and international aid. This moral togetherness and material support facilitates individuals’ ability to cope and maintain mental resilience.
- The importance of childhood: Research shows that being presented with and overcoming challenges in childhood without parental intervention helps build resilience through development of problem solving skills, emotion regulation and self-efficacy. These experiences, ideally paired with a secure attachment to the parent are key to develop resilience skills which are carried into adulthood .
- Social Connections: Research shows that more social connections, and close friendship groups help combat stress and anxiety, and aid in resilience against adversity, as evidenced during the Covid – 19 pandemic