The Meaning of Mental Health from Elderly Women's Perspectives: A Basis for Health Promotion

By Hedelin, Birgitta; Strandmark, Margaretha | Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, January-March 2001 | Go to article overview

The Meaning of Mental Health from Elderly Women's Perspectives: A Basis for Health Promotion


Hedelin, Birgitta, Strandmark, Margaretha, Perspectives in Psychiatric Care


PROBLEM. To gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of mental health.

METHODS. Qualitative interviews with 16 women between the ages of 71 and 92. The data were collected and analyzed using a phenomenological approach.

FINDINGS. The essence of mental health is the experience of confirmation, trust and confidence in the future, as well as a zest for life, development, and involvement in one's relationship to oneself and to others.

CONCLUSIONS. Creating arenas for encounters confirming the individual's human existence and dignity is an important basis for the psychiatric nurse's health-promotion work.

Search terms: Confirmation, health promotion, life-world, mental health, phenomenology, psychiatric nursing, women

Mental illness is an extensive public health problem. Global estimations of the burden of disease show that mental illness plays a prominent role (Murray & Lopez, 1996). Despite the large extent and serious effects of mental illness, there are few studies focusing on mental health and mental health promotion. In Sweden, the National Board of Health and Welfare (Kompetensbeskrivningar, 1995) has stipulated that psychiatric nurses must be able to initiate and implement measures aimed at promoting mental health in people of all ages, in the population as a whole and at the group and individual levels. In a holistic-existential model for psychiatric nursing (Hummelvoll & Barbosa da Silva, 1994), prominence is given to the nurse's responsibility for mental health promotion. At the individual level, it means assisting clients to have a life in a spirit of social community. On a social level, the nurse has a moral obligation to influence and change conditions that create health problems.

Mental health often is described in negative terms--as the absence of objective signs of mental disease or in terms of "normality" reflecting the prevailing norms in the society. Positive mental health, however, can be regarded as real and existing in itself. A well-known example is Sigmund Freud's observation that a healthy person is a person who is able to work and love. Marie Jahoda's classic work (1958) remains an important and oft-cited contribution on this topic, in reviewing the literature, Jahoda found six different approaches to mental health: the attitudes of an individual toward self; growth, development, or self-actualization; integration; autonomy; perception of reality; and the ability to cope with one's environment. In a philosophical analysis of positive mental health, Tengland (1998) devised the concept of "acceptable mental health," which includes the ability to exercise practical rationality and to cooperate.

This article adopts another point of view: the description of mental health from an "inside perspective." It is fundamental to ask for the inside perspective to understand what nursing actions are appropriate when promoting mental health. How does a person's perspective of well-being, a meaningful life, and community contribute to successful coping and enjoyment of life, especially in later life, when experiencing physical illness and necessary losses? The aim of the study was to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of mental health by investigating how elderly women perceive their own mental health.

Methods

Phenomenology aims to detect and understand rather than to explain, predict, and interpret. Husserl (1989), the founder of the philosophy and method of phenomenology, argued that it is necessary to "return to things themselves" (p. 57) if we want to acquire knowledge about reality. By things he meant phenomena that reveal themselves to a subject. A characteristic of the phenomenological method is to depart from pure descriptions of the "life-world," that is, the subjects' lived experiences of their daily life, the world they live in and take for granted. The overriding aim is to capture the essence of the phenomenon--the characteristic sign, meaning, or innermost being of the phenomenon that emerges through a process of intuition, reflection, and free imaginative variations by the researcher (Husserl; Karlsson, 1995; Merleau-Ponty, 1995). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Meaning of Mental Health from Elderly Women's Perspectives: A Basis for Health Promotion
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.