What is Mental Fitness?

About Mental Fitness

Dr. Paula Robinson and her team at the University of Wollongong have worked to develop Mental Fitness, a scientific concept and model that offers a fresh approach to improving mental health, resilience, and wellbeing.

Mental Fitness & Physical Fitness

Mental Fitness is redefining the way people approach mental health. Rather than seeing mental health as something to treat, this model takes a more positive approach by adapting and applying the language of ‘fitness’ to mental health. 

Familiar concepts such as strength, flexibility, endurance, and team are applied in a new way to improve psychological fitness. This empowers individuals to improve their psychological fitness just as they would their physical fitness.

A Mental Fitness perspective helps us understand that building mental wellbeing is no different than achieving physical fitness – dedication, self-awareness and self-management are key ingredients of success, along with having a purpose-oriented and growth-focused mindset. 

Man running on track

Principles of Mental Fitness

Mental Fitness is positive, inclusive, and non-stigmatizing. Viewing mental wellbeing through a lens of Mental Fitness not only helps create a more positive outlook toward mental health but also helps reduce the stigma and shame that so often prevent people from engaging with the topic.

The four evidence-based principles of Mental Fitness are:

1. Fitness is a positive term without the connotations of illness and stigma that often plague the terms mental health and mental illness

2. Mental Fitness can be understood by the wider community in a similar way to physical fitness

3. Mental Fitness is measurable

4. Mental Fitness can be improved in a similar way to physical fitness.


Mental Fitness does not pathologize the ups and downs of everyday mental health, but instead  empowers individuals to play an active role in becoming more resilient, productive, and happy.

From struggling to thriving, anyone can develop practical skills to improve their Mental Fitness regardless of where they are in their mental health journey.

The Mental Fitness Model

The Mental Fitness Model (TM)
Mental Fitness Factors

Developed by Robinson, Oades & Caputi; 2014, 2015

Factors of Mental Fitness

The Mental Fitness model is based on four key factors: Flexibility, Endurance, Strength, and Team. Supported by decades of research, each of these dimensions plays a role in improving mental wellbeing and resilience.

All of the Mental Fitness Factors are supported by highly effective activities that have proven useful in cultivating and maintaining wellbeing through decades of scientific research. We call these exercises Mental Fitness Actions.

Mental Fitness Actions are easy to integrate into everyday life, whether it’s for work, at home, or even with friends and family. Simple changes – such as setting achievable goals, reframing anxious thinking patterns, or using solution-focused language – can be easily incorporated into existing everyday routines – both at work and at home.

When practiced regularly, these positive habits have been shown to improve resilience, productivity, physical health, life satisfaction, relationships, and more.

Resilient business woman

Mental Fitness at Work

The science of Mental Fitness has proven successful for some of the world’s most innovative organizations. Research shows that employees who work in mentally fit workplaces take fewer days off, stay at companies longer, and are more engaged and productive while at work.

They report deeper connections with colleagues and the company’s vision, values, and objectives. They also cope better with stress, burnout, uncertainty, and change.

Mental Fitness has become a savvy investment for some of the world’s largest businesses. Companies such as Accenture, Deloitte, and PWC have reported an impressive return on investment (as high as $6 for every $1 invested) by investing in practical, engaging, and meaningful mental health initiatives for their employees.

Are you counting the cost of high employee turnover, persistent absenteeism, time spent managing interpersonal conflict and other improvable outcomes?

The data doesn’t lie – Mental Fitness is good for people, and good for profits.

Learn how we can unleash the power of Mental Fitness in your workplace.

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