Background: There is accumulating evidence that positive mental health and psychopathology should be seen as separate indicators of mental health. This study contributes to this evidence by investigating the bidirectional relation between positive mental health and psychopathological symptoms over time. Methods: Positive mental health (MHC-SF) and psychopathological symptoms (BSI) were longitudinally measured in a representative adult sample (N=1932) on four measurement occasions in nine months. A cross-lagged panel design was applied and evaluated with a latent growth model combined with an item response theory measurement model. Results: Psychopathological symptoms were longitudinally related to positive mental health and vice versa, controlling for initial levels. The changes over time were even more important than the absolute levels of psychopathological symptoms and positive mental health, respectively. Conclusions: The results underline the need for a comprehensive perspective on mental health, incorporating both the treatment of symptoms and the enhancement of well-being.
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