Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950565 | Print ISBN: 9780761928201 | Online ISBN: 9781412950565| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Mental Health in Later Life, Ecology of
Sara Honn Qualls
The ecology of mental health refers to the interrelationships among individual well-being and the layers of contexts that surround humans. The study of the impact of environments on individual functioning and well-being in later life was launched by Lawton's (1984) model of environmental press, which suggests that an optimal amount of environmental challenge is critical for the well-being of older adults, whereas excessive challenge leads to premature loss of autonomy. The ecological context of mental health is complex, requiring multidimensional, multilayered approaches (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, 1995). The layers of contexts in which individuals live are intricately connected to the very definitions of well-being (Ryff & Keyes, 1995), suggesting that mental health cannot be studied, evaluated, or treated as if it exists solely within the individual. Indeed, the study of mental health in later life requires examination of the multiple layers in the ecology of the individual's context to understand, explain, or ...