The salutogenic model of health (Antonovsky, 1997) is one of the most influential models regarding the multidimensional causes of health, offering explanations on why certain people stay healthy despite the existence of risk factors. In his theory, Antonovsky describes heath and illness not as two individual factors, but rather as two poles of one continuum, along which individuals move dynamically, depending on certain factors. According to the model, the most important factors influencing health are individual stressors, the manner in which one deals with them, and the resources or protective factors that contribute to the management of stressors.
According to the model, one of the key components determining the capacity of individuals to cope with everyday life stressors, is one’s „Sense of Coherence“. Developing over the course of a person’s life, it reflects the degree to which a person trusts that his or her life is understandable, manageable, and meaningful; with meaningfulness (and the belief that life is worth making an effort for) being cited as the most important factor. According to the model, individuals with a higher sense of coherence are associated with more positive (more healthy) outcomes on the health continuum than individuals with a lower sense of coherence .
The second important concept of the salutogenetic model, the “Generalized Resistance Resources”, comprises all individual (e.g. intelligence, physical factors, coping strategies), social and cultural factors (e.g. social support, cultural stability, financial opportunities) that help individuals cope with stressors. Psychosocial resilience resources, in particular, play an important role in prevention strategies, as these are potentially influenceable and can thus directly increase a person’s resilience. Resources include characteristics, skills, and attributes of a person (e.g., knowledge about prevention, coping mechanisms, self-esteem), as well as social factors (e.g., involvement in a social network and opportunities for support) .
The model of salutogenesis demonstrates that health is a dynamic process and not a fixed condition, and that it is not a matter of reducing illness, but rather of promoting health. The model emphasizes the need to examine health with a holistic perspective and underlines one’s own agency!
Therefore: whether currently experiencing a depressive episode or presently symptom-free, attending to our basic needs, such as social integration, sufficient sleep, proper nutrition, and physical activity, as well as cultivating the ability to recognize one’s own distress and the capability to confide in people and seek professional assistance in a timely manner, are the most useful and effective preventive strategies we have, to influence our mental well-being.