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Chapter 2

HSS1101 Chapter 2: Promoting and Preserving your Psychosocial Health

Health Sciences
Course Code
HSS 1101

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Psychosocial/mental health ecompasses the intellectual (thinking), emotional (feeling), social
(relating) and spiritual (being) dimensions of health.
You are psychosocially/mentally healthy when you develop each of these dimensions at optimal
levels; and reserve energy for facing the normal ups and downs of life.
Psychosocial health is a result of a complex interaction between your history and your
conscious/ unconscious thoughts about and interpretations of the past.
People who are psychosocially healthy:
- Feel good about themselves
- Feel comfortable with other people
- Control tension and anxiety
- Meet the demands of life
- Curb hate and guilt
- Choose a positive outlook on life
- Enrich the lives of others
- Cherish things that make them smile
- Value diversity
- Appreciate + respect nature (biophilia)
Intellectual health: thinking and rational part of psychosocial health - includes beliefs, values
and attitudes.
It is your ability to:
- perceive things happening around you realistically
- use reasoning in problem solving
- to interpret what is happening accurately
- evaluate situations effectively and react appropriately
The healthy intellectual response is to take responsibility of your actions, or lack of actions.
When a person’s intellectual health deteriorates — he or she may experience sharp declines
in rational thinking and increasingly distorted perceptions. As a result, they may experience
mood swings or become cynical.
Emotional health: the “feeling” or subjective side of mental health; the “feeling” reactions to life
………… aka emotions!
Emotions: intensified feelings or complex patterns of feelings we experience on a day-to-day,
minute-to-minute basis.
Emotions are an interplay of four components: physiological arousal, feelings, cognitive
(thinking) processes, behavioural reactions.

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Four basic types of emotions:
- emotions resulting from harm/loss/threats
- emotions resulting from benefits or rewards
- borderline emotions, such as hope & compassion
- more complex emotions, such as grief or disappointment
++ You can experience these emotions a combination.
Part of being mentally healthy involves evaluating your emotional responses, the environment
leading to these responses, and the appropriateness of your actions/reactions to these
emotional responses.
You’ll respond appropriately to upsetting or uplifting situations, and won’t let your emotions
Men in particular think its a weakness to seek help - whether professional or from friends.
Poor emotional health = social health.
———> social isolation is one of the many potentially negative consequences of
unstable emotional responses.
Poor emotional health: feeling and or acting hostile, withdrawn, moody, grumpy etc.
Emotional turmoil seriously affects your ability to think clearly, reason or act in a rational way.
Those who show repeated and excessive abnormal behaviours are classified as as having
mental illnesses.
Social health (part of mental health) is the ability to:
- Interact with others individually or in groups
- Use and provide social support
- Adapt to a variety of social situations
Social health promotes physical and mental health
Two important facts of social health:
the presence of strong social bonds:
social bonds: degree and nature of interpersonal contacts; with the functions of: (a) intimacy,
(b) feeling of belonging to or integration with a group, (c) oppotunities for giving or recieving
nurturance, (d) reassurance of ones worth (e) assistance and guidance (f) advice.

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2) Presence of key social supports
social support: structural and expressive aspects of social interaction.
———> expressive: emotional support, encouragement ———> structural: housing, money
In it’s most extreme form, a lack of social health is represented by acts of prejudice and bias
toward other individuals or groups.
Prejudice: a negative evaluation of an entire group of people usually based on unfavourable
and often mistaken ideas of the group.
It is possible to be intellectually, emotionally, and socially healthy and still not achieve your
optimal levels of psychosocial well being.
——-> spirituality dimension is missing!
Your spiritual health reflects your values, beliefs and perceptions of the world and all living
Spiritually: a search for meaning, connectedness, energy and trancendedness
- refers to the deepest, innermost part of you
- source of strength + purpose
- could be belief in a supreme being, or a specific way of life prescribed a particular
It is believed that in living in the materialistic Western society, we deny our spiritual needs.
There then comes a point, however usually around mid life - or when a crisis occurs, such as
a major illness or death of someone close to you - when you discover that material world cannot
bring a sense of happiness.
The realization that there is more to life brings new opportunities for understanding yourself and
provides room for spiritual growth.
Attaining and maintaining your spiritual health takes time, effort and experience; the longer you
live, the more you experience; the more you have to learn from.
Four main themes spirituality addresses:
interconnectedness — a web of connections, includng your relationship to yourself, to others
and to a larger meaning or purpose in life
mindfulness — awareness and acceptance of the reality of the present moment.
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