Associations Between Self-Compassion and Mental Health: a Literature Review

Jenaya L Burns Monica Skewes Ph.D, Julie A. Gameon MS, Department of Psychology Montana State University P.O. Box 173440 Bozeman, MT 59717-3440

Self-compassion is an idea that came from Buddhist philosophy and has been studied extensively in recent years as a predictor of mental health outcomes. Self-compassion has been described as being kind to oneself, being mindful of one’s feelings, and not over-identifying with one’s feelings. The purpose of this study was to review the psychology literature on self-compassion and identify future directions for research. A search was completed using various combinations of the following keywords: self-compassion, mental health, depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, substance use, substance use disorder, and trauma. This search yielded a total of 18 sources, including 16 empirical research articles and two review articles. The articles were broken down into four different sections: original self-compassion articles, self-compassion measurement issues, self-compassion and substance use, and finally self-compassion, trauma, and mental health. Results showed that self-compassion is statistically associated with higher levels of positive characteristics such as happiness, curiosity, exploration, and optimism. Self-compassion was also significantly associated with lower levels of negative mental health issues such as depression, substance use disorder, and suicidal ideation. Issues with the measurement of self-compassion have been identified. Since the self-compassion scale measures both positive and negative items, it appears that it is measuring two different constructs: self-compassion and self-criticism. With the three main aspects of self-compassion this concept could be a vital resource in treating mental health disorders as well as substance use disorder. By having a patient realize that the issue they are seeking help with is valid and that they are not alone in their struggles can help aid their recovery process. With this, further research is needed to investigate whether self-compassion provides better mental health outcomes, or if already having better mental health is the reason some score higher on the self-compassion questionnaire.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Jenaya Burns

Institution: Montana State University Bozeman

Type: Poster

Subject: Psychology

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 11
Date/Time: Wed 3:00pm-4:00pm
Session Number: 7046