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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds So to illustrate the findings that we reported in the paper, in the journal Plos One, we’ve constructed this little Excel spreadsheet. What we’ve got is an equation that represents the output from the structural equation model that relates biological problems, social problems, and life events through the mediating effects of rumination to lead to mental health problems. And the very simple, in statistical terms, equation that’s included here, represents both direct and mediated effects of these different causal issues. What this allows us to do, what this Excel spreadsheet allows us to do, is to play with the different variables to see how they impact on our mental health.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds So we can imagine a baseline position of maybe 50%, for want of a better word, threat in each of the areas and how that impacts on our mental health. If we then increase the degree of threats to a person’s mental health by changing these figures from say 50% to 75%, we can see how it changes the levels of their mental health problems. So increase in their biological vulnerability from 50% to 75% has a noticeable effect on the person’s mental health. If we return the biological score back to 50%, do the same with social problems, increasing that to 75%, again, you can see an impact on the mental health.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 seconds Impact on a mental health of changing level of social disability, in this equation, has a very slightly smaller impact than effect in their biological problem simply because the equation has slightly different figures in there. If we return that to 50% and look at the impact of an increase in the number of negative life events on a person’s problems, you’ll see a more significant impact on their mental health. What really makes a difference, however, is if we look at the changes in somebody’s tendency to ruminate. Again, if we make the same numerical change from 50% to 75% in their level of rumination, you can see a very marked impact on their mental health.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds Of course, in the real world, you’re likely to have increased levels of life events, increased levels of social problems, and the tendency to ruminate as that pushes up the person’s mental health scores quite considerably.

Skip to 2 minutes and 54 seconds This is not intended to be direct research. The numbers 50%, 75% are just illustrations. Obviously, biological problems and social problems in life events don’t come in neat percentages. It allows you to play around with the numbers and to show how both the input variables of the actual problems themselves, biological, social, and life events and the mediating effects of rumination impact on our mental health. To help you look at this in a little bit more detail, we’ve included the Excel spreadsheet on the course website, so you can download it and play around with the numbers yourself. You can also, incidentally, check that I’ve got the equation right, which might be an important of the process.

Skip to 3 minutes and 43 seconds We’ve made this spreadsheet available in a format that you can access on the course website with instructions for how to do the manipulation of the variables I’ve just illustrated, and of course, to check that I’ve got the equation right.

The interactive model

This interactive spreadsheet, explained in the video, allows you to see how biological problems, social problems, life events and rumination can have an effect on mental health. You can input percentages yourself to see how different combinations may impact on well-being. Try inputting different levels of each factor to determine which ones are the most detrimental to mental health.

Download the spreadsheet (right click and choose ‘save as’)

Please note: the spreadsheet here is a Microsoft Excel file (.xls). If you do not have access to Excel on your computer, you could download and install Open Office, a open-source free software alternative which will open the file, to try this optional step.

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Psychology and Mental Health: Beyond Nature and Nurture

University of Liverpool

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