Well-being Processes : Insights into Personal Growth and Adolescent Mental Health

Sammanfattning: This thesis follows two main lines of inquiry into well-being processes: 1) atheoretical exploration of personal growth, defined as the gradual growth of wellbeing, and 2) an empirical exploration of students’ mental health profiles and sense of self. Altogether five studies are included in the thesis, two of which follow thefirst line of inquiry (articles I and II) and three of which follow the second (articlesIII, IV, and V). The first line of inquiry has the aims of 1) integrating parts of thesubfields of positive and humanistic psychology (article I) and 2) suggesting amodel of personal growth based on Carl Rogers’ (1961) person-centred humanistictheory of therapeutic change operationalized into constructs mainly from positivepsychology (article II). This model of personal growth is intended to providepositive psychology and positive education a theory of well-being change that couldserve as the basis for a framework for well-being interventions at schools. Topromote well-being, one must know how well-being changes; the present thesisaims to fill this gap in the research. The other line of inquiry has the overarchingaim of studying facets of this theoretical process among adolescents – adolescents’mental health profiles (article IV), as well as adolescents’ sense of self and mentalhealth (article V). Additionally, article III is a validation study of one of theadolescent well-being scales we used. Adolescent mental health should beunderstood in a nuanced way through profiles, whereby mental health symptomsand well-being are seen as separate continuums that can co-occur in complex ways.We found five different mental health profiles among adolescents: complete mentalhealth, moderate mental health, vulnerable, symptomatic but managing andtroubled. People develop a sense of self throughout adolescence, often characterizedby a conflicting sense of self in early and mid-adolescence, turning in lateradolescence towards greater coherence and authenticity, which are aspects ofpersonal growth. We found that the self-processes of self-awareness and self-compassion are conducive to adolescent authenticity, which was in line with thetheoretical model. This thesis contributes to new theoretical developments andresearch surrounding personal growth and adolescent well-being processes. Futureresearch is suggested to take the study of personal growth further with evaluation ofthe model, building measurement scales, and framing new well-being interventioninitiatives from the perspective of personal growth.