Self-compassion involves practicing self-kindness rather than self-judgment; understanding that all human beings suffer instead of feeling alone in our suffering; and practicing mindfulness rather than over-identifying with our thoughts and feelings.
Behavioral health and psychology research overwhelmingly supports the benefits of self-compassion and research is becoming increasingly specific in terms of the applications of self-compassion in mental healthcare settings.
The following findings represent some of the latest research that has been published in the field of self-compassion and specific mental health outcomes. These findings continue to support the notion that when it comes to boosting psychological well-being and preventing complications from mental illness, teaching self-compassion is a beneficial and worthwhile endeavor.
College-aged men who were self-compassionate were more likely to seek help for mental health issues.
A study published in January found that levels of self-compassion played a role in whether college-aged men sought help for mental health concerns.
The study investigated whether one’s ability to show self-kindness had an impact on mens’ adherence to social norms of masculinity, which may hold men back from asking for help.
The study found that men who had more self-compassion were, in fact, less likely to be affected by the potential stigmas associate with seeking help for mental health issues.
The takeaway may be that if heightened levels of self-compassion are associated with mens’ likelihood of seeking mental health help, teaching skills for self-compassion might be prioritized in young men and teenage boys as a preventative measure.
A boost in self-compassion was also tied to a boost in well-being among first-year college students.
In a related study, which was published this month in Personality and Individual Differences, levels of self-compassion were examined in first-year college students over a period of time.
The researchers found that changes in self-compassion were related to positive changes in well-being among the group of predominantly female students.
They found that self-compassion enhanced the satisfaction of psychological needs, pointing to the notion that methods to enhance self-compassion in first-year college students might help to offset declines in well-being that are common among college students.
Compassion-based interventions were effective in reducing depressive symptoms in suicidal African Americans.
A study published this month in Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior looked at the ways that compassion meditation might reduce self-criticism and ultimately decrease depressive symptoms in a low-income African American population.
The study participants, who had recently attempted suicide, were assigned to complete either a six-session compassion meditation or a six-session support group. Those who completed the compassion meditation group showed greater reductions in self-criticism. It was also found that self-criticism was in fact a mediator of the depressive symptoms.
Broadly, these findings may suggest that compassion-based approaches are effective in the treatment of depression and also that self-criticism specifically is a worthwhile treatment target.
Self-compassion was tied to post-traumatic growth and adaptive cognitive processes after trauma.
A paper published in February in the journal Mindfulness sought to examine the links between self-compassion and post-traumatic growth or positive changes as opposed to negative ones after trauma.
The study looked at a group of ethnically diverse college students who had experienced trauma. The data collected showed a clear connection between self-compassion and post-traumatic growth, specifically through the processes of positive reframing and presence of meaning.
The findings suggest that overall, self-compassion may be connected with more healthy cognitive processing post-trauma, leading to post-traumatic growth.
Partners of cancer patients benefited from a web-based intervention based on acceptance and commitment therapy and self-compassion.
Caring for a loved one with a cancer diagnosis can be extremely taxing psychologically, but many caregivers do not utilize mental health services. Though many caregivers report mental health issues, they rarely utilize support or mental health care.
A study published in February sought to examine whether a self-help web-based intervention based in acceptance and commitment therapy and self-compassion could serve to help partners of cancer patients and found that the intervention was useful in helping them to practice self-kindness, to manage difficult emotions and to feel more connected with their partner.
The investigators concluded that such an intervention could be an effective tool in helping to support partners of cancer patients through what is a very challenging process.