Be Well Lab

About the lab

The Be Well Lab is a collaboration between SAHMRI and Flinders University.

We investigate how to optimally measure and build mental health and wellbeing, and investigate the development of real-world applications on the back of this research. We specifically study the overlap between mental health and mental illness, and assess the benefits that positive states of mental health (wellbeing) can have on an individual's mental health; translational research which aims to improve mental health models of care.

This concretely means we conduct community and organisational wellbeing projects, are conducting various wellbeing measurement projects, perform systematic reviews on mental health and wellbeing, and study the development of new mental health and wellbeing interventions.

Featured projects (4)

We conduct larger-scale measurement of mental health, mainly looking at positive, adaptive and distress outcomes. By looking at these distinct domains of mental health, we aim to get a better understanding of the mental health of individuals and communities, most notably in Australia. We furthermore conduct studies to improve the way we measure, either by studying our own data or by looking at global studies (e.g. via systematic reviews).
The goal is to determine the impact of a generalised psychological intervention on mental health outcomes in diverse populations. Outcomes of focus are typically positive mental health (wellbeing), resilience, but also indicators of psychological distress (mood, anxiety, stress) and other psychological outcomes (e.g. loneliness, optimism).
The goal is to examine the interplay between positive and adaptive states of mental health (mental wellbeing, resilience) and psychological distress or mental illness. The project will look at contributing to the increasing evidence that mental health and mental illness represent two distinct constructs and that each requires its own assessment methods and interventions. The project will include reviews, observational and intervention research.
The goal is to investigate positive (mental wellbeing), adaptive (resilience) and distress states in university students and to implement solutions to build these mental health outcomes in a sustainable way.

Featured research (3)

Background: The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is expected to have widespread and pervasive implications for mental health in terms of deteriorating outcomes and increased health service use, leading to calls for empirical research on mental health during the pandemic. Internet-based psychological measurement can play an important role in collecting imperative data, assisting to guide evidence-based decision making in practice and policy, and subsequently facilitating immediate reporting of measurement results to participants. Objective: The aim of this study is to use an internet-based mental health measurement platform to compare the mental health profile of community members during COVID-19 with community members assessed before the pandemic. Methods: This study uses an internet-based self-assessment tool to collect data on psychological distress, mental well-being, and resilience in community cohorts during (n=673) and prior to the pandemic (two cohorts, n=1264 and n=340). Results: Our findings demonstrate significantly worse outcomes on all mental health measures for participants measured during COVID-19 compared to those measured before (P<.001 for all outcomes, effect sizes ranging between Cohen d=0.32 to Cohen d=0.81. Participants who demonstrated problematic scores for at least one of the mental health outcomes increased from 58% (n=197/340) before COVID-19 to 79% (n=532/673) during COVID-19, leading to only 21% (n=141) of measured participants displaying good mental health during the pandemic. Conclusions: The results clearly demonstrate deterioration in mental health outcomes during COVID-19. Although further research is needed, our findings support the serious mental health implications of the pandemic and highlight the utility of internet-based data collection tools in providing evidence to innovate and strengthen practice and policy during and after the pandemic.
Prisoners display significantly higher rates of mental disorders and lower mental wellbeing than the general population. The integration of positive psychological interventions in offender supervision has received recent advocacy. The aim of the current pre-post pilot study was to determine the short-term effects of group-based resilience training on mental health outcomes for female offenders and explore intervention acceptability. Offenders ( n = 24) self-selected to partake in a multi-component psychological skill program based on positive psychology, cognitive–behavioural therapy, and mindfulness-based activities. The training was taught in nine sessions of 1.5 hr each. Baseline and follow-up measurements of mental wellbeing and psychological distress were collected and focus groups conducted to investigate participants’ experiences, acceptability, and appropriateness of the training. Moderate to large effect sizes indicating significant improvements were observed for wellbeing, g = 0.75 and distress, g = 0.56. Training was well received by participants and staff and was delivered feasibly within the prison context. The results are encouraging, and a future well-powered study using a rigorous controlled design is warranted.
The dual-continua model of mental health suggests that mental illness and positive mental health reflect distinct continua, rather than the extreme ends of a single spectrum. The aim of this review was to scope the literature surrounding the dual-continua model of mental health, to summarise the evidence, highlight the areas of focus for individual studies and discuss the wider implications of the model. A search was conducted in PsycINFO (n = 233), PsycARTICLES (n = 25), Scopus (n = 137) and PubMed (n = 47), after which a snowballing approach was used to scope the remaining literature. The current scoping review identified 83 peer-reviewed empirical articles, including cross-sectional, longitudinal and intervention studies, which found overall support for superior explanatory power of dual-continua models of mental health over the traditional bipolar model. These studies were performed in clinical and non-clinical populations, over the entire life-course and in Western and non-Western populations. This review summarised the evidence suggesting that positive mental health and mental illness are two distinct but interrelated domains of mental health; each having shared and unique predictors, influencing each other via complex interrelationships. The results presented here have implications for policy, practice and research for mental health assessment, intervention design, and mental health care design and reform.

Lab head

Members (7)

Daniel Fassnacht
  • Flinders University
Gareth Furber
  • Flinders University
Joep Van Agteren
  • South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute; Flinders University
Kathina Ali
  • Flinders University
Matthew Iasiello
  • South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
Laura Lo
  • South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute
Elli Kolovos
  • Flinders University