The Art of Strengths Coaching

W is for Roger Walsh: Wellbeing, Mental Health And Spirituality

Roger is a researcher and practitioner at the University of California, Irvine. He is the professor of psychiatry, philosophy and anthropology. He is also an adjunct professor of religious studies.

He has a vast knowledge about the physical, psychological and philosophical aspects of human beings. Some of his research is put in very practical terms, such as in the video above. Other aspects are based on sharing from the well of human wisdom.

Roger believes that human beings can shape a healthy future, but we must decide which route to take. He has said:

“We may be in a race between wisdom and world disaster.”

Roger Walsh smaller picture

This article includes two videos. The first one above is relatively short and focuses on how people can improve their health.

The second is more extensive. It focuses on spiritual development and shaping the future of our lives on the planet.

You can discover more about the vast range of Roger’s work – from the physical to the philosophical – at his web site.

Well-Being and Mental Health

In the video above Roger gives a brief introduction to how life-style changes can improve health. Here are excerpts from the University of California’s press release about his findings. You can find this at:

Therapeutic lifestyle changes as useful
as drugs in improving mental health

Getting more exercise, spending time outdoors and helping others are among the activities that can be as effective as drugs or counseling in treating an array of mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety, according to a UC Irvine study. 

In determining this, Dr. Roger Walsh, professor of psychiatry & human behavior, philosophy and anthropology, as well as adjunct professor of religious studies, reviewed research on the effects of what he calls “therapeutic lifestyle changes.”

Other TLCs might relate to nutrition, relationships, recreation, relaxation, and religious or spiritual involvement.

“I found that lifestyle changes can offer significant advantages for patients, therapists and societies, yet they’re insufficiently appreciated, taught or utilized,” Walsh said.

“TLCs can be effective, inexpensive and enjoyable, with fewer side effects and complications than medications.

“In the 21st century, therapeutic lifestyles may need to be a central focus of mental, medical and public health.”

* Exercise.

This boosts people’s sense of well-being.

It can help children do better in school, improve cognitive performance in adults, reduce age-related memory loss in the elderly, and increase neuron formation in the brain.

* Diet.

Diets with plenty of fruits, vegetables and fish may enhance kids’ school performance, help maintain cognitive function in adults, and reduce symptoms in schizophrenic and affective disorders.

* Spending time in nature.

This can promote cognitive function and overall well-being.

* Good relationships.

These can reduce health risks ranging from the common cold to strokes, as well as multiple mental illnesses, and can dramatically improve psychological health.

* Recreation and fun.

This can lessen defensiveness and foster social skills.

* Relaxation and stress management.

This can treat a variety of anxiety, insomnia and panic disorders.

Meditation can enhance empathy and emotional stability; decrease stress and burnout; and boost cognitive function and even brain size.

* Religious or spiritual involvement.

The involvement that focuses on love and forgiveness can promote well-being and reduce anxiety, depression and substance abuse.

* Contribution and service or altruism.

This can foster joy and generosity, benefit both physical and mental health, and perhaps even extend lifespan.

A major exception, Walsh noted, is “caretaker burnout experienced by overwhelmed family members caring for a demented spouse or parent.”


Roger has spent many years exploring spirituality. He surprised himself when beginning to venture into these areas, because he was involved in behavioural psychology. Moving from Australia, however, he found that California got to him.

In the first part of the following video he describes his move into the field and his discovery of Transpersonal Psychology. In the second part he considers the questions we may need to explore to create a healthy future.


Roger says that there are two kinds of questions: Knowledge Questions and Wisdom Questions.

Knowledge questions have a one-time answer and provide the seeker with matters of fact. 

Wisdom questions can be asked again and again. They have the potential to take us deeper into ourselves and find deep answers.

Roger concludes his talk by looking at the choices facing our generation. For the first time in history, he says, all the major crises we face are caused by human beings. He expands on the following themes.

The state of the world is a reflection of the state of our individual and collective minds. What we call our global problems are actually global symptoms. They are symptoms of our inner state.

We live in a time of enormous challenges and enormous opportunities. We are called to cultivate the qualities that will enable us to solve the challenges.

Never before have we had the power to imperil our species and our planet.

Never before have we had the power to heal our species and bring all people to new levels of well-being, prosperity and maturity.

The choices our generation makes will decide whether we leave behind us an evolving civilisation and a fertile Earth or a failed species and a plundered planet.

We have the power to do both.

Here is Roger’s talk from the 2012 Spirituality and Psychology Conference.

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