Mental Well-Being and
Resilience:

Knowledge Informed Action

Mental Well-Being and
Resilience:

Knowledge Informed Action

At the PEI Alliance for Mental Well-Being, we are focused on building mental well-being and resiliency of Islanders for the best quality of life. To guide our work, we look to the body of knowledge developed about resilience and mental well-being.

The knowledge that the Alliance is using is broad and inclusive. It includes what we know from academic research, stories of lived experience, and how these have been translated into successful community action. It draws upon research and science about the human development process, the critical importance of early childhood and brain development to life-long mental well-being outcomes, and the social determinants of health.

It is this knowledge base that can be a guide for actions and solutions to create an impact for individuals, families and communities. Particularly what can be done to support individuals to have the strongest mental well-being possible.

To learn more about the foundational knowledge please click here.

What is Mental Well-Being?

The knowledge base tells us that to be mentally well is to have the capacity to bounce back from significant adversity or toxic stress and sustain mental well-being over the long term.

The science of resilience helps us understand an individual’s mental well-being. It can also be applied to understand and build resilience in families and communities.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is a term used to describe an individual’s capacity to sustain mental well-being during adversity or toxic stress.

Resilience is not a fixed character trait you are born with; rather it is a capacity that can be built throughout life (although starting early is the best investment). Resilience is something that can be built and supported by families, schools, workplaces, and communities. We all have a role we can play for ourselves and others.

Resilience can also be strengthened at any point in life by providing supportive relationships, skill-building opportunities and buffering sources of toxic stress in individuals, families, workplaces and communities.

Resilience is built by supporting responsive relationships, strengthening core life skills, and reducing sources of toxic stress and its harmful buildup.

What is Mental Well-Being?

The knowledge base tells us that to be mentally well is to have the capacity to bounce back from significant adversity or toxic stress and sustain stable mental well-being over the long term.

The science of resilience helps us understand an individual’s mental well-being. It can also be applied to understand and build resilience in families and communities.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is a term used to describe an individual’s capacity to sustain mental well-being during adversity or toxic stress.

Resilience is not a fixed character trait you are born with; rather it is a capacity that can be built throughout life (although starting early is the best investment). Resilience is something that can be built and supported by families, schools, workplaces, and communities. We all have a role we can play for ourselves and others.

Resilience can also be strengthened at any point in life by providing supportive relationships, skill-building opportunities and buffering sources of toxic stress in individuals, families, workplaces and communities.

Resilience is built by supporting responsive relationships, strengthening core life skills, and reducing sources of toxic stress and its harmful buildup.

Additional Resources

“Resilience is a complex life outcome that is commonly misunderstood…
Resilience is not simply an inborn trait; instead, it is determined by the complex interplay of genes and experiences that shape brain architecture…
Resilience is the ability to respond positively in the face of adversity.”


developingchild.harvard.edu
www.albertafamilywellness.org
  

“In the context of exposure to significant adversity, resilience is both the capacity of individuals to navigate their way to the psychological, social, cultural, and physical resources that sustain their well-being, and their capacity individually and collectively to negotiate those resources to be provided in culturally meaningful ways.”


Ungar 2008, Ungar 2011

Inspired by the Resilience Scale Metaphor from
www.albertafamilywellness.org

The Resilience Scale

The Resilience Scale see-saw metaphor is commonly used to demonstrate how negative experiences and adversity can be counterbalanced by positive experiences and supports across the life span. This metaphor is part of a knowledge-based narrative called The Brain Story.

Inspired by the Resilience Scale Metaphor from
www.albertafamilywellness.org

An individual’s resilience can be enhanced by increasing his/her skills and abilities. These include executive functions like planning, focused attention, remembering instructions, etc. as well as engaging in healthy, responsive social interactions. The building of these abilities and relationships is particularly important in the early years but can be enhanced at any point in the lifespan.

The resilience scale can also be tipped in an individuals’ favour through supportive responsive relationships. This is a critical factor in building resilience across the lifespan.

The more skills, abilities and supporting responsive relationships an individual has the more likely they are to have positive outcomes when faced with harmful experiences and toxic stress.

Let’s explore each principle within the scale in more detail.

Principle 1:

Supporting responsive relationships

For children and youth, responsive relationships with adults have a triple benefit – they promote healthy brain development, scaffold the development of core life skills, and provide the buffering protection needed to prevent toxic stress build-up.

For adults, responsive relationships also boost well-being by providing skill-building opportunities, advice and emotional support which strengthen hope, confidence, and the ability to weather stressful situations. When families and caregivers have supportive relationships and the safe, stable environments they need to engage in responsive relationships, this can ultimately help children and youth become healthy, responsive parents themselves.

Principle 2:

Strengthening core life skills

There is a set of core skills that help people manage life, work, and relationships successfully that includes the ability to focus, plan, and achieve goals, adapt to changing situations and resist impulsive behaviour. No one is born with these skills; they develop over time through practice and feedback, with some children and youth needing more time and support than others to build them. Initiatives that help children, youth and adults strengthen these core skills not only affect their success in schools and jobs but also their ability to become parents that support the development of these capabilities in the next generation.

Principle 3:

Reducing sources of toxic stress and its harmful buildup

Learning to cope with stress is an important part of development but the unremitting stress experienced by some children, youth, adults and families experiencing poverty, systemic racism, intergenerational trauma, family violence, parental substance abuse and/or mental illness, can, without intervention, cause long-lasting problems for children, youth and the adults that care for them.

Reducing and buffering the pile-up of potential sources of toxic stress will protect children, youth, and adults from its harmful consequences. Children and youth are better able to thrive when we lighten the load on their parents and other adults who care for them (e.g., grandparents; childcare workers) so they can meet their families’ essential needs. Toxic stress drains precious energy the brain needs to build resilience and mental well-being not only in childhood but throughout life.

Three Principles to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families, 2021 Update, April 2021

Knowledge
Into Action

The true power of research and knowledge is in its application. That is where we are focused. The Alliance will be using this knowledge framework, and new research as it evolves to educate ourselves, and others on what can have the most impact on Islanders’ mental well-being.

As demonstrated by this model, actions needed to build resilience and improve mental well-being for all Islanders require input and engagement from across sectors (health, social services, education, justice, Indigenous communities, businesses, municipalities, etc.), regions, and disciplines – a whole of PEI approach.

Using this unifying framework, we can help build bridges amongst a variety of partners and stakeholders to improve mental well-being outcomes.

We are committed to continuing to learn from others and contribute to this body of knowledge as it evolves. All for the goal of improving mental well-being.

Knowledge
Into Action

The true power of research and knowledge is in its application. That is where we are focused. The Alliance will be using this knowledge framework, and new research as it evolves to educate ourselves, and others on what can have the most impact on Islanders’ mental well-being.
As demonstrated by this model, actions needed to build resilience and improve mental well-being for all Islanders require input and engagement from across sectors (health, social services, education, justice, Indigenous communities, businesses, municipalities, etc.), regions, and disciplines – a whole of PEI approach.

Using this unifying framework, we can help build bridges amongst a variety of partners and stakeholders to improve mental well-being outcomes.

We are committed to continuing to learn from others and contribute to this body of knowledge as it evolves. All for the goal of improving mental well-being.