Understanding resilience and good mental health

What affects resilience and good mental health

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What to do if my resilience is stretched and my psychological first aid box

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I'm OK, is that OK?

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“We all have mental health and responders are not invincible”


Being resilient doesn’t mean we’re unaffected by stress and adversity. Instead it refers to our ability to recover, to bounce back. 

Whether we’re able to do this depends on the stresses we face and the resources available to help us deal with them. 

It also means that our resilience isn’t a fixed thing but something that changes throughout our life and from day to day.

There are several things that affect resilience and good mental health

Having our basic needs for shelter, food and safety met
Feeling physically well
Having a sense of belonging and connection to others
Being able to manage our emotions and think flexibly
Optimism and a sense of hope
Having good coping and problem-solving skills
Feeling our lives have purpose and meaning

Balancing mental heath and resilience

Both our mental health and our resilience can vary over time and circumstance. We get into difficulty when the demands we face outweigh the things that keep us well.

This is true for all of us, but is especially important if our work or volunteering role involve exposure to dangerous or upsetting  experiences.

We need to keep things balanced because if our resilience is low there is a higher risk of being injured by stressful or potentially traumatic events.

Stones balancing

If your resilience is stretched, start with the basics first.  

Make sure you’re physically safe and well, that you’re getting enough sleep and are eating healthily. Then think about who’s on your team because social support is the most important thing for good mental health. 

One of the biggest problems with mental ill health is the stigma and shame that accompanies it, because this can get in the way of us asking for and getting support from others.

What’s in your Psychological First Aid box? 

Is exercise in there? If so, that’s great because it really helps our physical and mental health, but make sure it’s not the only tool in your box. On the Coping and Self care page you’ll find suggestions for improving sleep and learning to relax.
Please have a look also at the How will I know if I'm not OK? and What can I do if I’m not OK? pages for tips on coping with lots of common difficulties including low mood, bad dreams and anxiety. 

I’m doing OK, is that OK?

If you’re doing OK, that’s great! But don’t take it for granted; it’s not an accident that you’re OK. 

Take a bit of time to understand what it is that keeps you well and remember that our coping strategies can be disrupted by positive as well as negative changes in our lives. Use the resources on this site to keep your Psychological 1st Aid box well stocked. 

Take the Lifelines Staying Road Trip and have a look at the HeadFIT for Life website has some great tools for developing your mental fitness.


Your service, your Lifelines

Visit the web pages of Lifelines Scotland Ambulance, Fire & Rescue, Police or Volunteer Responders for extra resources tailored to each service and more information about the specific help available from different organisations.