In a nonpatient population, the concept of mental health was operationally defined both in terms of behavior and of abstract psychological functioning. Ninety-five college sophomores, selected for psychological health, were prospectively followed up for 30 years. They were assessed by independent raters on a scale reflecting objectively defined healthy adult adjustment; on a scale of clinically defined psychiatric illness; and on a scale of maturity of ego defenses.
These three scales were highly correlated. It seemed likely that relatively objective items like length of vacation, divorce, heavy use of mood-altering drugs, career dissatisfaction, and visits to medical physicians can—as a cluster—statistically identify the abstract concept of mental health.
Vaillant GE. Natural History of Male Psychological HealthIII. Empirical Dimensions of Mental Health. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(4):420-426. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760220032003