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Growing evidence suggests that positive mental health or wellbeing protects against psychopathology. How and why those who flourish derive these resilient outcomes is, however, unknown. This exploratory study investigated if self-compassion, as it continuously provides a friendly, accepting and situational context for negative experiences, functions as a resilience mechanism and adaptive emotion regulation strategy that protects against psychopathology for those with high levels of positive mental health. Participants from the general population (n = 349) provided measures at one time-point on positive mental health (MHC-SF), self-compassion (SCS-SF), psychopathology (HADS) and negative affect (mDES). Self-compassion significantly mediated the negative relationship between positive mental health and psychopathology. Furthermore, higher levels of self-compassion attenuated the relationship between state negative affect and psychopathology. Findings suggest that especially individuals with high levels of positive mental health possess self-compassion skills that promote resilience against psychopathology. These might function as an adaptive emotion regulation strategy and protect against the activation of schema related to psychopathology following state negative affective experiences. Enhancing self-compassion is a promising positive intervention for clinical practice. It will not only impact psychopathology through reducing factors like rumination and self-criticism, but also improve positive mental health by enhancing factors such as kindness and positive emotions. This may reduce the future risk of psychopathology.
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- Why Does Positive Mental Health Buffer Against Psychopathology? An Exploratory Study on Self-Compassion as a Resilience Mechanism and Adaptive Emotion Regulation Strategy
Hester R. Trompetter
Elian de Kleine
Ernst T. Bohlmeijer
- Springer US