Heart of Arts

Psychological Well-being in A Developing World

Dr. Suleiman T. Folorunsho

Head, Clinical Psychology,
Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos



Psychological well-being consists of positive relationships with others, personal mastery, autonomy, a sense of purpose, a meaningful life, personal growth, and development. People with higher psychological well-being are more likely to live healthier, enjoy a better quality of life, and tend to have fewer social problems.

Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities and can cope with the normal stresses of life. The individual concerned must be able to work productively and fruitfully and can contribute to his or her community (WHO, 2001, 2015, 2020). Generally, psychological well-being is the combination of feeling good and functioning effectively in society.

High psychological well-being is about feeling happy and doing well in society. They also report feeling capable, happy, well-supported, and satisfied with life. Studies have shown that people with higher psychological well-being are more likely to live healthier and longer lives, and they are also more likely to enjoy a better quality of life. It is also associated with fewer social problems. People with high psychological well-being report feeling capable, happy, well-supported, and satisfied with people’s lives in general.

Studies have shown that people with high psychological well-being are less likely to engage in criminal behavior, drug abuse, and other social vices. Positive psychological well-being tends to predict higher earnings and more pro-social behavior, and it also tends to participate in volunteering activities that will benefit society.

People are also more likely to enjoy positive psychological well-being when they have their basic needs met. Living in a safe area, having enough food, having adequate shelter, and having access to other social facilities are all important factors for emotional health.



  1. Living a life with meaning and purpose is key to improving one’s psychological well-being.
  2. Positive thinking: As your Psychological well-being improves, it becomes easier to think positively and feel good overall
  3. Recall positive life events
  4. Perform acts of kindness
  5. Practice mindfulness exercises, as they can help one cope with life stressors; that is, pay attention to your thoughts, actions, and body.
  6. Express gratitude, that is, appreciate those who do good towards you
  7. Identify your strengths; that is, remind yourself of things that you can do better
  8. Practice forgiveness
  9. Fostering good relationship



  • Good interpersonal relationships
  • Be Physically active by engaging in Physical exercises
  • Learn new skills
  • Give to others
  • Pay attention to what is going on in your environment



  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Spiritual well-being
  • Emotional well-being, that is, accepting one’s feelings
  • Physical wellness
  • Social wellness



  1. Employability, that is, the capacity to secure and maintain a job
  2. Involvement in charities and social enterprises
  3. How conducive is the environment?
  4. Confidence and sense of belonging
  5. Improvement in health
  6. Improvement in education
  7. Improve employment and social support system



The WHO-5 and WHO-10 were selected from among the 28 items based on a non-parametric item response theory analysis (Mokken, 1971), which identified the 10 most valid items from the original 28-item scale by Warr et al. (1985).

The items for the 28-item scale were selected from Zung scales for depression, distress, and anxiety, as well as, from the general health questionnaire and the psychological well-being scale by Jahoda (1958). Both the 28-item scale and the WHO-10 include symptoms of distress, feeling downhearted, and blue, and items phrased as positivity reflecting well-being, that is, waking up feeling fresh and rested. In essence, the WHO considers positive well-being to be another term for ideal mental health (Beach, 1999, 2015).

WHO-5 Contains

  1. I have felt cheerful and in good spirits
  2. I have felt calm and relaxed
  3. I have felt active and vigorous
  4. I woke up feeling fresh and rested
  5. My daily life has been filled with things that interest me (WHO 1993, 1998)



  1. Emotional well-being: the individuals concerned must have the capacity to live a full and creative life and the flexibility to deal with life’s challenges, which is the ability to withstand any stressful life condition.
  1. Independence of Decision: People with sound mental health must be able to think independently, rather than, rely on others to make decisions on their behalf.
  1. Perception of Reality without Distortion: The individual concerned must be able to reason along with others without any perceptual distortion.
  1. Ability to Love and Be Loved: An individual deemed to be normal must be able to understand the feelings of other people, which is the reciprocity of actions.
  1. Self-actualization: People with good mental health should aspire to whatever they want to become in life (goals set by an individual must be pursued vigorously for better achievement).
  1. Self-awareness: An individual must be able to develop self-awareness within one’s self and awareness within one’s self and his or her environment (able to know himself or herself, know his or her abilities, and accept what he/she cannot do).
  2. Mental ability: Normal individuals must have a good sense of judgment (ability to use their mental ability efficiently).
  3. An ideal person must be able to function optimally in his or her
  4. The individual with a sound mind must be able to interact meaningfully in society; there should be no impairment, in social interaction.
  1. An ideal individual must be able to appraise luck and misfortune



It is very good for an individual to exhibit behavioral characteristics that will enhance good mental health in any society. The factors include the following:

  1. Personal Hygiene: An individual must be able to take care of his or her hygiene (ability to take care of oneself, oral hygiene, bathing, maintaining a good haircut, cutting fingernails, washing one’s clothes, etc.)
  1. Environmental hygiene: A normal individual must be able to take care of his or her environment to avoid any form of diseases that could occur as a result of poor environmental conditions
  1. Good nutritional habits: To maintain healthy living, an individual needs to eat a balanced diet and avoid any form of disease outbreak.
  1. Ability to keep a job: A normal individual must have the ability to maintain a suitable job (frequent job changes may indicate poor mental health).
  2. The choice of friends is an important factor that could determine effective mental health. Normal individuals must be able to maintain good friends ability to identify themselves with good and responsible people in society, and not bad
  3. Religious affiliation: Normal individuals must be able to identify themselves with one religious group in the
  4. Good sexual habit is an indication of a sound mind: A normal person should not be involved in risky sexual behavior that could lead to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV/AIDS.
  1. The use of psycho-active substances should be avoided in
  2. Ability to accept whatever stressful condition that comes your way (ability to cope with any life events).
  3. Recognize early warning signs of psychological disorder: an individual should recognize early warning Signs of mental illness, hence, prompt remediation.
  1. Form the habit of frequent medical check-ups: A normal individual should be concerned about their mental health condition for prompt and early intervention.
  1. Learn to accept what you cannot change in life: The ability to accept whatever comes your way will go a long way toward boosting your mental health.




The government can improve well-being through good planning and the provision of social facilities like:

  • A good transport system is a good road network
  • Good educational system
  • Good housing system
  • Good leisure activities
  • Good security network
  • Good economic system
  • Freedom of political association
  • Good health care system
  • Adequate job opportunities
  • Good youth development programs
  • A regular supply of power in the
  • Adequate supply of clean and potable water in the

Good governance and the provision of necessary social amenities by the federal, state, and local governments can affect the psychological well-being of our community and Nigeria at large.



  • Live a creative and purposeful life
  • Positive thinking patterns
  • Write about a better future (Good plan)
  • Recall positive life events
  • Perform acts of kindness
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Express gratitude
  • Identify your strengths
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Fostering relationships



  1. World Health Organization (1999): International Statistics Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision (ICD-10) Diagnostic Criteria for Research. Geneva, WHO, 1999, 2001, 2015.
  2. Bech, P. (1999). Health-related quality of life measurements in the assessment of pain clinic results. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand; 43: 893–896
  1. Mokken (1971) Theory and Practice of Scale Analysis, Berlin,
  2. Warr P., Banks M., and Ullan P. (1985). The experience of unemployment among black & white urban teenagers. British Journal of Psychology (76): 75–87
  1. Bech P, Gudex C, and Staehr K (1996). The WHO-10 Wellbeing Index: Validation in diabetics Pschother Psychosom (65) 183–190.
  2. Curhan, KB, Levine, C.S. Markus, HR, Kitayamu, Park, and J. Karasawa M. Ryff, CD (2014) Subjective and objective hierarchies and their relations to psychological well-being: A.V. S/Japan Comparison. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5 (8), 855-864
  1. Suleiman F (2012), “General Psychology as Applied to the Nursing Profession” (Lecture Notes on the Post-Basic Nursing Program, LUTH).
  1. Zimbardo, PG (1985), Psychology and Life (12edn), S.A. Scott Foresman & Co.

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