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Hope And Mental Health: How Does It Help?

Hope and Mental Health: How does it help?

Hopelessness is one of the major reasons people sink deeper into the sea of rotten mental health. Someone gets bad news or goes through a depressing phase and is unable to come out of it because of their inability to see that there is hope for better experiences. In this article, we would be looking at the role that hope plays in mental health and the wellbeing of an individual. 

Let’s start by defining hope…

What is Hope?

Hope is the active expectation of an event, situation or outcome. Hope is a firm conviction that something you want will happen or become yours. More than just wishful thinking, hope is a combination of determination and optimism. 

Positive psychologist Charles Snyder and his associates developed the “hope theory”, which holds that hope provides people the willpower, tenacity, and sense of empowerment necessary to achieve their objectives. Likewise, a substantial amount of research indicates that hope, more than optimism or self-efficacy (our faith in our own talents), might promote well-being.

Forms of Hope

People hope for different things at different times and seasons of their lives. As a result, hope is expressed in divers ways, some of which are; 

  • Realistic Hope: It is the expectation of a feasible and reasonable result (Wiles, Cott, & Gibson, 2008).
  • Utopian Hope: It is a hope that is focused on the group and collectiveness, believing that working together, we can make everyone’s future better.
  • Chosen Hope: This is the ability to cope with a difficult present and an unknown future. To manage negative emotions, one must choose optimism for the most attainable goals.
  • Transcendent Hope: This is also sometimes referred to as existential hope, is the hope that is not tied to a specific outcome but is based on the idea that wonderful things can happen in general rather. It includes three different kinds of hope: universal hope, generalized hope, and patient hope. 

Statistical Facts

One in five young adults are diagnosed with a mental illness and and many of them struggle psychologically in their first year of college as a result of increased academic demands. Hope could be a shield against suicidal thoughts and negative, self-deprecating thoughts.

Hope and anxiety treatment were the focus of a study conducted in 2020 under the direction of University of Houston associate professor of clinical psychology Matthew Gallagher. Gallagher remarked “Hope was a common element and a strong predictor of recovery,”  in reference to the study’s findings. 

Furthermore, research reveals that optimism can lessen the effects of trauma, including those resulting from sexual assault, war, and other traumatic experiences.

A 2019 study concluded that hope, optimism, and social support were linked to fewer signs of trauma after being exposed to terrorism. Hope was linked to post-traumatic growth—positive development that happens as a result of a painful event. The study was focused on survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

In a 2018 study, 692 teenagers in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh years at four high schools in low-income areas were the subjects of a study on hope and resilience. They discovered that the teenagers with higher levels of hope also have greater resilience.

Benefits of Hope in Mental Health

  1. Enhanced Coping Skills: Optimistic individuals have little trouble navigating difficult or demanding situations. They have better practiced and developed their resilience and capacity to remain upbeat even amid peculiarly depressing circumstances. People who are hopeful are more likely to look for help and discover solutions to issues.
  2. Improved Well-Being: Those who have a positive view typically have better overall mental and physical health than those who have a pessimistic outlook. They are more satisfied with life, have wholesome relationships, and feel that their lives have meaning and purpose.
  3. Decreased Stress and Anxiety: By instilling optimism and the conviction that things will get better, hope can serve as a protective barrier against stress and anxiety. By doing so, you may be able to lessen your stress hormone levels and feel less anxious. 
  4. Increased Motivation: Hope can also boost motivation by giving people a feeling of direction and purpose. It can inspire people to strive toward their objectives and get over challenges.
  5. Encouraged Healing and Rehabilitation: Hope is regarded as a crucial component of recovery and treatment when it comes to mental illness. It provides individuals with the drive to engage in therapy and to adhere to their course of treatment, both of which are advantageous for symptom management and healing. 

Barriers to Hope

  1. Negative thoughts and beliefs
  2. Extended stress or trauma
  3. Social isolation
  4. Lack of access to mental health resources
  5. Inadequate information and guidance regarding mental health and the healing process
  6. Stigma surrounding mental health

How to Cultivate Hope

  1. Focus on your strengths. Pay attention to the things you are good at, things that excite you and make you happy.
  2. Practice gratitude. One of the best ways to actively do this is to have a gratitude journal! Yes, write down even the tiniest things you are grateful for but don’t just write them down, take time to go over them.
  3. Reframe negative thoughts. Do some redirections; whenever thoughts that dim the light of your hope comes up, change the course. Always remind yourself of the positive things happening in your life, surroundings and the world.
  4. Limit media exposure. Social media doesn’t help sometimes, and it is perfectly okay to take some time off. Same as mass media, sometimes listening to/watching the news can be devastating. You don’t always have to know about everything that is going on in the world.
  5. Spend time with hopeful, optimistic people. In this case, “your network is your hope worth” 


End Note

Hope is a fundamental action that keeps the world running. Take a moment to imagine what the world would look like without hope? It’s no wonder hope is at the crux of the definition of faith according to Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

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