Resilience to mental health problems measured as anxiety and depressive symptoms associated with specific stressors: Examining specificity in their interrelations among adolescent and adult samples for theory and praxis
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- Institutt for psykologi 
In spite of adverse conditions and overwhelming odds, some people show competence that contribute to positive mental health. When a stressful event occurs, such as death of a loved one, diagnosis of a major illness or violent crime, this can lead to hopelessness and loss, diminished personal agency and efficacy with severe outcomes. Some people show resilience under significant stress and are able to recover or even achieve a better level of functioning despite scoring high on anxiety and depressive symptoms. However, theoretical and conceptual adequacy of resilience has come under intense scrutiny along with operationalization and measurement issues in stress and resilience research. What does this mean for the measurement of resilience? Moreover, how is resilience involved in the protection against common mental health problems associated with stress? Is there evidence for unequal functioning of resilience factors and specificity in their interrelations with stress and common mental health problems? Data from adult samples in Australia and Norway and adolescent samples from Ghana was used to examine the measurement model of resilience and also to test complex theoretical models exploring mediating (i.e., anxiety symptoms) and moderating (i.e., resilience factors) factors in the association between different stressors and depressive symptoms. Samples from Australia and Norway understood and interpreted resilience measured by the Resilience Scale for Adults (RSA) in a comparable fashion. The way that resilience can be measured reliably and validly is important as a first step towards expanded research, rigour in applied practice, fidelity to social policy and informed preventive or targeted interventions. Scores on anxiety and depressive symptoms associated with different stressors and resilience factors showed that different resilience factors are differentially involved in the protection against anxiety and depressive symptoms. This means that while some factors may matter more in protection against anxiety and depressive symptoms, other factors may matter much less when they are undermined. The benefit of assessing uneven and differential impact of resilience factors and specificity relations is to understand mixed successes in implementing resilience-based interventions and prudently allocate scarce and finite resources for growth and positive adaptation. For example, when social competence is undermined for an individual, intervention may target promoting perception of self, which involves elevating self-esteem, trust and confidence in one’s own ability as protective resource against common mental health problems. Another benefit is to refine and expand existing narrowly described theories, improve definitional ambiguities and the substantial variations in operationalization and measurement of resilience.