Intellectual Wellness Fact Sheet

This fact sheet addresses intellectual wellness and is part of PRA Well-Being’s eight-part Tips for Providers series. The Tips for Providers series highlights how providers can enhance the wellness of individuals with mental health conditions through each of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness. Each fact sheet examines strategies to enhance that dimension of wellness, provides an overview of how each dimension of wellness relates to the other dimensions, and highlights how each dimension of wellness relates to mental health.  

This fact sheet describes intellectual wellness as a lifelong endeavor that supports overall well-being. People who invest in their intellectual wellness reap benefits across many areas of life by nurturing new pursuits to apply in their lives, developing interests outside of work, and sharing newly learned skills with others. 

While intellectual pursuits are valuable for everyone, people with serious mental illness (SMI) who participate in activities that are intellectually engaging stand to benefit in ways that can support their recovery through improved cognitive abilities and memory retention. In order for everyone, including people in recovery, to enhance their intellectual wellness, learning needs to be accessible for a wide range of learners. Supported education helps individuals receiving mental health services participate in an education program that will help them achieve their recovery goals. Supported education provides access to safe learning environments with diverse interpersonal, cultural, and social experiences. Access to supported education is linked to increased life satisfaction, improved opportunities, and reduced rates of hospitalization. Individuals who may have a hard time with regular attendance or program completion would benefit from programs and organizations that encourage and maintain enrollment. 

Beyond formal learning, creative endeavors may also foster intellectual wellness in individuals with SMI. Journaling or keeping a diary encourages reflection and can help manage symptoms for people with conditions such as eating disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, attention-deficit disorder, and schizophrenia. Art therapy has also been proven to assist those with trauma or stress in managing their symptoms and processing events. As a hobby or as part of a health intervention, supporting intellectual wellness through artistic expression allows for self-expression and may encourage or rekindle old hobbies. 

A wide range of habits and pursuits can encourage intellectual wellness, such as cooking or baking, or physical hobbies like dancing or sports. These pastimes present the additional benefit of contributing to physical wellness, as they promote better nutritional decisions and physical activity, illustrating how wellness in one dimension frequently supports improvements in another. As another example, sharing such activities with family or friends can support continue engagement in the activities over time and also contribute toward the social wellness of everyone involved. Providers can use the practices of cultural activation to help patients identify opportunities for new or old hobbies that might support their intellectual wellness.  

View the other fact sheets in this series: 

This resource was first shared in 2019. 

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