The Crucial Link between Self-Respect and Mental Health

New research reveals the impact of self-respect on depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation

In a groundbreaking study, a team of European scientists has shed light on the crucial connection between self-respect and mental health. Published in Health Psychology Open, the research explores the role of self-respect in individuals’ experiences and coping mechanisms related to depressive symptoms and thoughts of suicide. By delving into the distinct dimension of self-respect, the study offers fresh insights into the complex relationship between self-esteem, mental health, and cultural differences.

Defining Self-Respect and Its Impact on Mental Health

The study’s focus on self-respect, rather than self-esteem, distinguishes it from previous research. While self-esteem encompasses individuals’ overall feelings about themselves, self-respect centers on their beliefs in their own rights and worthiness. The researchers sought to understand how self-respect influences mental health outcomes, particularly in culturally diverse settings. They aimed to determine whether self-respect could act as a protective factor against depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation and whether these relationships varied between Western and non-Western countries.

Study 1: Relationship between Self-Respect and Depressive Symptoms in Europe

The researchers conducted three separate studies to investigate the relationships between self-respect, depressive symptoms, assertiveness, and suicidal ideation. Study 1 focused on three European countries—Germany, Norway, and Spain. Participants recruited online completed questionnaires, resulting in a sample of 436 individuals. The study revealed a significant relationship between self-respect and depressive symptoms in all three countries, even after controlling for age and gender.

Study 2: Expanding the Investigation to Non-Western Countries

To broaden the scope of their research, the scientists recruited participants from non-European, non-Western countries—Iran, South Korea, and Indonesia—for Study 2. With a sample of 1,815 individuals, the study confirmed the negative relationship between self-respect and depressive symptoms across all three countries. Additionally, self-respect was positively related to assertiveness. In South Korea and Indonesia, self-respect was also negatively correlated with suicidal ideation, indicating that higher self-respect was associated with fewer thoughts of suicide.

Study 3: Replicating the Relationships in the United Kingdom

To ensure the robustness of their findings, the researchers conducted Study 3 among English-speaking students in the United Kingdom. A sample of 172 individuals from the University of Glasgow participated, and the results mirrored those of the previous studies. Significant relationships were observed between self-respect, assertiveness, depressive symptoms, and suicidal ideation.

Meta-Analysis: Confirming the Relationships Across Seven Countries

In the final step of their research, the scientists conducted meta-analyses to summarize and estimate the relationships observed across all seven countries. The meta-analyses confirmed that higher self-respect was negatively related to depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation. While these relationships were generally consistent, some variability was observed among different individuals and cultures, suggesting the influence of various contextual factors.


The groundbreaking research on self-respect and mental health provides valuable insights into the complex interplay between self-evaluation and depressive symptoms. The findings suggest that interventions and therapy could benefit from addressing self-respect as a specific component of individuals’ self-perception. By tackling the link between perceptions of unequal rights and depressive symptoms, professionals can develop strategies to foster self-respect and, in turn, enhance mental well-being. Further research is required to explore the causal directions implied by the observed correlations, but this study highlights the importance of self-respect in promoting mental health for individuals and societies alike.