What is Mental Languishing?

What is mental languishing?

Dr. Chikako Ozawa-de Silva differentiates mental illness and mental languishing, stating that people languishing and lacking social support have a higher risk of suicide.

Nick: This is something you wrote, and it jumped out at me in your article: mental languishing. So how would you define mental languishing? And how is it different from mental illness?

Chikako: Mental illness is that medical category, and mental languishing is understood as a deficit in emotional, social, and psychological well-being. So if you're not familiar with emotional, social, and psychological well-being:

Emotional well-being, meaning you're feeling happy; a social well-being is that you feel you're accepted by other people, by your community, and society – and society makes sense to you; a psychological well-being is something that you have a positive self worth about yourself -- so mental languishing is something that is like, deficit of these three.

Actually, it is considered more detrimental and more predictive of future suicide than mental illness.

So what it means is that those who are suffering from depression, but have meaning in life, good relationships, and so on, may have lower risk for suicide than those who don't suffer from mental illness but who are languishing and lack of these other factors such as social support and loneliness.

Nick: Yeah, this really made sense to me. It was almost like an epiphany, where we could be mentally sound or mentally stable.

But if we have no social connection, if we have loneliness, and we have this sense that we don't have purpose or meaning to our life, it would make our life definitely hard to continue living. So we could be mentally fine and capable. 

But if we are just languishing as you define it in these three areas, people would question, why am I living? I'm not happy. I have no sense of purpose. I don't have any strong meaningful relationships.

So I think this research really provides important answers to what makes our life worth living. 

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