Environmental factors like stress and adversity, as well as internal stressors like maladaptive thinking, play an important role in the development of mental disorders, such as depression, addiction or anxiety. Often a prolonged period of stress in the work and/or private field leads to chronic occupational (e.g., work overload) or psychosocial stress (e.g., conflicts with family). This condition often can be accompanied by stress-related symptoms such as fatigue, aches and pains, irritability, short temper, sleep disturbances, etc. The term 'burnout' is used to describe this chronic condition. If such symptoms are not correctly identified and people do not adapt properly to the stressor (e.g., by using maladaptive coping skills like the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or by neglecting family, friends and relaxation time), one's personal threshold – depending on individual dispositional factors – can be exceeded. This might lead to the development of stress-related or mental disorders (see figure).
But not everybody develops a mental or stress-related disorder when being subject to acute or chronic stress. Some people have the ability to 'withstand' stress and to properly adapt to the challenge of adversity. This ability is called 'resilience'. Research has shown that (neuro-)biological, psychological and social resources represent protective factors which help to prevent a stress-related disorder by facilitating the adaption to the stressor (see figure below). Some of these so called resilience factors like optimism, self-efficacy, emotional regulation, mindfulness, network orientation, and problem-solving skills can be trained and strengthened. This can reduce the likelihood of maladaptive coping, and also of negative adjustments such as the development of ‘burnout’, or even a mental disorder (see figure below).
Health and resilience promotion model
Services of the Resilience Health Care Center
At the Resilience Health Care Center, we are currently offering private and public enterprises professional counseling services tailored to those employees suffering from acute or chronic stress reactions.
Our services include:
- Diagnostic assessment and classification of the present symptoms.
- Education about early warning signs of stress-related and mental disorders.
- Implementation of preventive measures for the promotion of health.
- Counseling to develop individual therapy recommendations and to coordinate the therapy plan (including referral to other specialists) in order to prevent work disabilities and chronicity of stress-related disorders.
Prof. Dr. med. Klaus Lieb / Prof. Dr. sc. hum. Michèle Wessa