Is subjective well-being a measure or the measure of mental health?


  • Dušan Kecmanović Academy of Sciences and Arts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo


Subjective well-being, Happiness, Mental health


No matter how we conceive subjective well-being, happiness,as a predominantly affective condition, is a key componentof it. There is a tendency, mostly within positive psychology,to equate subjective well-being, i.e., happiness and mentalhealth. The question arises as to how well founded it is toequate happiness and mental health. The author challengesthe connection between subjective well-being and mentalhealth. He argues that mental health should not be reducedto happiness. In order to back his view he analyses six aspectsof the alleged association of happiness and mental health,and shows the mismatch of these two phenomena. Conclusion.Mental health comprises inter alia the correct perceptionof reality, a critical stance towards the given society, andbehavioral manifestations. All these occurrences are not thedefining characteristics of subjective well-being. Therefore, subjective well-being can be a measure but not the measure of mental health.


Download data is not yet available.


Keyes CLM. The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. J Health Soc Behav. 2002;43(2):207-22.

Keyes CLM. Subjective well-being in mental health and human development research worldwide: An introduction. Soc Indicators Res. 2006;77(1):1-10.

King LA. The hard road to the good life: The happy, mature person. J Humanist Psychol. 2001;41(1): 51-72.

Ryff CD, Keyes CLM. The structure of psychological well-being revisited. J Person Soc Psychol. 1995;69(4):719-27.

Deci EL, Ryan R M. Hedonia, edudaimonia, and well-being: An introduction. J Happiness Stud. 2008;9(1):1-11.

Ehrenreich B. Smile or die. How positive thinking fooled America and the world. London: Granta; 2009. p. 4.

Held BS. The negative side of positive psychology. J Humanist Psychol. 2004;44(1):9-46.

Seligman MAP. Learned optimism. North Sydney: Random House Australia, 1992. p. 282-92

Jahoda M. Current concepts of positive mental health. New York: Basic Books; 1958. p. 49-50.

Taylor SE, Brown JD. Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychol Bull. 1988;103(2):193-210.

Taylor SE, Brown JD. Positive illusions and wellbeing revisited: Separating facts from fiction. Psychol Bull. 1994;116(1);21-7.

Ryff CD. Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations

on the meaning of psychological well-being. J Person Soc Psychol. 1989;57(6):1069-81.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fourth revision, DSM-IV. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 1994. p. 21.

American Psychiatric Association. Definition of a mental health. The draft of DSM-V, 2010, http://www.ds, visited on 11 March 2010.

Marcuse H. One-dimensional man. Studies in the ideology of advanced industrial society. London and New York; (1994) 2007. p. 6.

Singer P. How are we to live? Ethics in an age of self-interest. North Sydney: Random House Australia; (1993) 2003. p. 19.

Kecmanovic D. Controversies and dilemmas in contemporary psychiatry. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers; 2010 (in press).




How to Cite

Kecmanović, D. (2010). Is subjective well-being a measure or the measure of mental health?. Acta Medica Academica, 39(1), 62–70. Retrieved from



Philosophy of Psychiatry