The promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing of populations and communities is an emerging sphere that includes research, policy development, community action and program activity. This according to World Health Organization in a growing global policy focus is to shift the mental health policy and practice from the sole emphasis on services for those suffering from mental illness to the prevention of mental health problems and the promotion of positive mental health. Focusing on concepts such as wellbeing and its promotion redirects health care to recognize the needs of those with and without pathology to develop characteristic traits that delay falling sick and promote quick recovery and remaining so on to flourishing. Developments of indicator scales of psychological wellness are one of the steps towards the actualization of this shift3. To this end, several scales have been developed and they measure various aspects of positive mental health for research purpose and in assessing practitioners' impact.
The Health Scotland in a review of validated scales grouped positive mental health measures into 8 groups according to the aspects of it they purport to measure. These 8 aspects were emotional wellbeing, life satisfaction, optimism and hope, self-esteem, resilience and coping, spirituality, social functioning, and emotional intelligence4. Attainment of all these aspects implies increase quality of life, wellbeing and functional capacity till attainments of resilience to illness and other life adversity.
In other words, positive mental health is the attainment of emotional resilience. And resilience is a psychological process developed in response to intense life stressors that facilitates healthy functioning. Furthermore, resilience can be described as the quality that allows an individual or group to function well despite the odds against them. Thus resilience connotes inner strength, competence, optimism, flexibility, and the ability to cope effectively when faced with adversity[5, 7].
A core of resiliency and the promotion of mental health is to minimize the impact of risk factors (such as stressful life events) and enhance the protective factors (such as optimism, social support, and active coping) that increase people's ability to deal with life's challenges[6, 8, 9]. Thus a good measure of resilience may go a long way in the assessment of positive mental health in the context of indicators for mental health planning, policy, research and impact treatment and promotional outcomes. Many measuring scales for the study of resilience have been developed and utilized in western countries. These include the Brief Resilience Scale (BRS), Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CDRISC), Baruth Protective Factors Inventory (BPFI), Resilience Scale for Adult (RSA), Brief Resilience Coping Scale (BRCS) and Wagnild and Young Resilience Scale (RS).
A review of some of the above instruments revealed RS as the best instrument to study resilience in adolescents. The RS turned out to be the first instrument developed for the study of resilience as well as one of the most widely used and accurate instruments to measure resilience globally[14, 16]. The RS also has been used in many study populations, in several parts of the world, has a 14 item short form (RS-14) and has been translated into other languages [5, 14, 17–19]. Other benefits include ease of use (6th grade readability), applicability in age group range from adolescent to elderly, and the constructs focus on positive psychological qualities rather than deficits.
The above assert that resilience has been well studied in western countries[3–5, 15] and less in developing countries, particularly Nigeria. The challenge of moving forward in terms of resiliency in a developing country like Nigeria, and the need to compare our results with other countries should naturally be preceded by the validation of a measuring scale for resilience. Thus, the aim of this study is to demonstrate the internal consistency and concurrent validity of the RS with its short form (RS-14) in a single Nigerian population.