The How to thrive documentary follows seven people as they learn how to thrive.

Positive psychology is about providing people with the skills and resources to support their mental health and wellbeing.

I was an expert advisor for the documentary and assessed the participants' progress over 18 months.

The evidence-based strategies in the documentary supported participants to thrive and lead most of them to feel and function well across multiple aspects of their lives.

Everyone can take lessons from this place. The film-making process can help you improve your life.

The process

Filming started before the beginning of the Pandemic. A group of people with different degrees of mental illness participated. Everyone was introduced to each other during a two day retreat.

For being part of the program, each person had their own mental health support. A psychologist was involved in the process.

There was a lock down after that.

A sense of belonging and a sense of community are created by participants who connect through the program. They filmed their progress after being introduced to evidence-based strategies.

Participants created a vision board of their best possible future self and identified what went well in their life after learning about their character strengths.

Individual coaching sessions were given to them.

Seven of the original 12 participants were included in the final cut of the film, based on which stories allowed the producers to talk about a variety of mental health conditions.

How I assessed their progress

Data was collected about participants' experiences.

Participants saw the benefits after making major changes to their lives. Over the next 10 months, benefits will continue.

A scale from -10 to +10 indicates high mental distress.

The participants went from amild-to-moderate distress to a moderate one. A 2 point improvement would be significant. We saw a difference of more than 8 points and it was clear that participants were thriving.

During the main intervention period, the greatest changes occurred. Improvements continued over the course of 17 months.

Participants felt more connected and satisfied with their lives. Participants were able to improve their physical health.

The participants felt like they were doing a better job. They gave more support to other people. They improved their skills, resources, and motivation.

Studies suggest that happiness is a skill that can be learned and developed with the right aims and supports.

What else could be going on?

The original 12 participants all took part in the assessments over the first year. Almost all of them have shown increases in their mental health and wellbeing.

The person who did not engage in many of the intervention activities did not see the improvements.

The benefits may have arisen from the supports participants had in place. Each participant had years of experience with mental health professionals.

Adding benefits to mental health care is suggested by this.

Positive psychology interventions can reduce the symptoms of depression.

We don't know how positive psychology interventions compare with other types of mental health care. Positive psychology can be added to mental care.

Positive psychology interventions have mostly been used with people who don't have severe mental illness. Positive psychology was added to typical care for people with moderate to severe mental illness.

What can we learn?

There are a number of ways to support mental health.

1. Find your tribe

Participants in the documentary formed a community. Humans want to belong. Loneliness is related to mental and physical illness. You can find people that you can connect with at a deeper level than you might think.

2. Engage in meaningful activities

Engagement in life is an indicator of healthy aging according to studies. This means taking the marrow out of life. Finding and committing to activities that fill you up and give you a sense of life is part of the process.

3. Be compassionate

Be kind to yourself and other people. Our own worst critics are us. We are doing everything we can to get the job done. It's important to be kind to yourself and others.

4. Be optimistic

Hope for the future and be optimistic. If we see the possibility of what could be, the results might surprise us.

5. Nurture yourself

Don't neglect your physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being. Eat and rest well, engage in moderate physical activity, and engage in activities that make you happy.

But be careful

There are positive psychology interventions. They only worked for people who were involved in the interventions and connected well with others.

The participants were dealing with multiple mental illnesses. Positive psychology was not a substitute for conventional support. They worked together.

If you're struggling with mental illness, it's important to connect with additional forms of support, including your GP, psychologist or psychiatrists.

If this article has raised issues for you, or if you're worried about someone you know, you can call the hotline.

The Centre for Positive Psychology is located at The University ofMELbourne.

If the story raises concerns or you need to speak to someone, please consult this list to find a crisis hotline in your country and reach out for help.

Under a Creative Commons license, this article is re-posted. The original article is worth a read.