Wellbeing and resilience

Close up of boy with hat talking to youth worker

Wellbeing and resilience are important in preventing the onset of mental health problems as well as potentially lessening the severity of existing mental health problems. Wellbeing and resilience are vital to developing efficient problem-solving skills, building and maintaining interpersonal relationships and realistic goal setting, all of which greatly enhance an individual’s ability to perform and contribute meaningfully in daily life.

When to focus on wellbeing and resilience:

Resilience is always important, but it can particularly equip people for times of change and stress such as:

  • life transitions and changes, such as starting at a new school

  • after the breakdown of a relationship, or a family

  • if diagnosed with, or worried about a mental health problem (such as anxiety, or an eating disorder).

What is wellbeing and resilience?

Good health is about more than just the absence of sickness. Focusing on wellbeing and building resiliency is important in establishing a holistic approach to health, addressing both physical and psychological states.

The World Health Organisation defines wellbeing as “the state in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her own community”. Wellbeing involves having positive self image and esteem.

Resilience, which is directly related to wellbeing, is about having the ability to cope with and adapt to new situations. Having a sense of resilience and positive wellbeing enables a person to approach other people and situations with confidence and optimism, which is especially important for young people given the enormous changes that occur with the transition into adolescence and adulthood.

Signs of resilience and wellbeing:

  • confidence to approach new situations and approach new people

  • realistic optimism

  • avoiding constant self-blame

  • ability to set goals

  • positive self image and self esteem.

How can students focus on wellbeing and resilience?

In a practical sense developing and improving on setting realistic and achievable goals, problem solving and social skills all contribute to wellbeing and resiliency. Other important skills include identifying and becoming aware of one’s own strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Setting realistic, achievable and measurable goals is a great way to promote self-efficacy. Setting goals should be motivating. One way to increase motivation (and minimise feeling pressure or ‘failure’) is to set sub-goals, smaller and achievable related targets.

  2. Understanding and avoiding negative self-talk as well as actively practicing positive self-talk, is an important tool for building self-esteem. Self-talk, which is essentially internal reflections on personal ability and/or image, can greatly influence self esteem and perceptions about personal ability.

  3. Developing and focusing on interpersonal skills, especially learning how to engage with people from different backgrounds, is a valuable tool for young people that will enhance self esteem and ability to maintain personal and fulfilling relationships.

What can teachers do?

  • create safe and supportive learning environments

  • provide consistent guidelines for behaviour

  • model appropriate responses and behaviours

  • provide opportunities for goal setting, success, failure and reflection.

ReachOut.com resources on wellbeing and resilience

What can I do now?

  • Talk to young people about their mental health in terms of building strength and resilience.

  • Suggest self-awareness and resilience strategies, such as mindfulness meditation. Try the Smiling Mind app.

  • Recommend ReachOut.com content on resilience and wellbeing.