Conceptualising and Measuring Mental Fitness: A Delphi Study

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Paula Robinson
Lindsay Oades
Peter Caputi

Abstract

Despite the increased use of the term mental fitness in the popular and psychological literature, there is little consensus in relation to theory, definition and measurement. The concept of mental fitness could be used to parsimoniously engage, educate and promote proactive, positive mental health activities to the wider community, without stigma and within a language that is easily understood.  This Delphi study engaged an international expert panel (n = 25) to evaluate a definition and four guiding principles of mental fitness. Expert consensus was achieved supporting the definition and four guiding principles with suggested modifications.

The final definition of mental fitness is “the modifiable capacity to utilise resources and skills to flexibly adapt to challenges or advantages, enabling thriving”. The final four guiding principles are (1) fitness is a positive term without connotations of illness implied by mental health or mental illness; (b) mental fitness could be understood by the wider community in a similar way to physical fitness; (c) mental fitness is measurable; and (d) mental fitness can be improved, in a similar way to physical fitness.  The panel also offered valuable recommendations for future research and practice.

 

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Author Biographies

Paula Robinson, University of Wollongong

Department of Psychology, PhD student.

Managing Director, Positive Psychology Institute.

Lecturer, Sydney Business School University of Wollongong (subjects: positive organisations, positive psychology in business, communication and motivation, business well-being)

Lindsay Oades, Australian Institute of Business Well-Being, Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong

Associate Professor

Peter Caputi, University of Wollongong

School of Psychology and Centre for Health Initiatives, Associate Professor