To examine whether positive mental health (PMH)—a positively focused well-being construct—moderates the job stress–distress relationship.
Longitudinal regression was used to test two waves of matched, population-level data from a sample of older, working Australian adults (n = 3291) to see whether PMH modified the relationship between work stress and later psychological distress.
Time 1 work stress was positively associated with distress at both time points. Positive mental health was negatively associated with work stress at both time points. Positive mental health modified the impact of work stress on psychological distress. This effect only occurred for those with the highest levels of PMH.
Positive mental health may help protect workers from the effect of workplace stress but only in a small proportion of the population. Therefore, to improve workplace mental health, workplaces need to both prevent stress and promote PMH.