The Model for Sustainable Mental Health: Future Directions for Integrating Positive Psychology Into Mental Health Care

Ernst Bohlmeijer*, Gerben Westerhof

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


This position paper proposes a model for systematic integration of positive psychology interventions (PPIs) in mental healthcare. On the one hand, PPIs can contribute to the decrease of dysfunctional processes underlying mental illness. This evidence is at the core of the new domains of positive clinical psychology and positive psychiatry. On the other hand, a growing number of studies demonstrate that mental health is not merely the absence of mental illness. Mental wellbeing represents a related but separate dimension of mental health. Mental wellbeing reduces the risk of future incidence of mental illness and is highly valued by people receiving psychological treatment as an important aspect of personal and complete recovery and personal growth. This makes mental wellbeing a vital outcome of mental healthcare. PPIs can directly increase mental wellbeing. The model of sustainable mental health is presented integrating the science of positive psychology and mental wellbeing into mental healthcare. This heuristic model can guide both practitioners and researchers in developing, implementing, and evaluating a more balanced, both complaint- and strength-oriented, treatment approach. The role of gratitude interventions is discussed as an example of applying the model. Also, three potential modalities for implementing PPIs as positive psychotherapy in treatment are as: positive psychotherapy as primary treatment, as combinatorial treatment, and as intervention for personal recovery of people with severe or persistent mental disorder. Finally, we argue that longitudinal studies are needed to substantiate the model and the processes involved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number747999
Number of pages10
JournalFrontiers in psychology
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2021


  • implementation model
  • integration
  • intervention
  • mental health care
  • positive psychology


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