David Aikman
Psychology
Year of study:
4
Mental Health and Free Will
Abstract
Millions struggle with mental illness. Millions more struggle without it. The ‘positive’ understanding of mental health aims to alleviate all struggling by learning from the happiest and healthiest members of society – emphasising the importance of maintaining and improving mental health even in the absence of a diagnosed (or diagnosable) mental illness. After summarising landmark discoveries in ‘positive’ psychology, I will describe my small contribution to the field which entails exploring beliefs in free will and their relationships with psychological well-being. Do people who believe they are free act more freely? And does that make them happy? Many have alluded to these questions in the past, tending to give the answers of ‘yes’ and ‘yes’. I will be the first to test these claims scientifically. And a strong scientific foundation for our perception of mental health is important due to the real-world significance of the issue.
Bio
Currently nearing the end of my psychology degree, I have been exposed to a dizzying array of ideas. This has no doubt made it harder to choose the next step in my career but does give me a broad basis from which it will eventually launch. Outside of psychology, I enjoy engaging with the public about everything scientific. Answering questions from behind a leaflet adorned table at a conference or festival is, in fact, one of my favourite things to do. Another of my favourite things is feeling like I’m doing something important, which is what attracted me to my research topic. I truly believe the way we frame mental health needs to change and I will offer a fresh perspective on the issue - especially fresh to those outside psychological communities, which is exactly why Let’s Talk About [X] is an important and exciting event.