Mental health promotion

Mental health is more than a health issue. It influences and is influenced by a wide range of social and economic factors. Positive mental health or well-being contributes to healthier lifestyles, better physical health, improved recovery from illness, fewer limitations in daily life, higher educational attainment, greater productivity, employment and earnings, better relationships, more social cohesion and improved quality of life.

The WHO/Europe report “Mental health, resilience and inequalities“ (2009) looks at how these factors are interrelated, and their effects – both good and bad – on individuals and communities, as well as the action that needs to be taken.

Relatively small differences in levels of inequality can have very significant effects on health. The urgent policy priority is to promote respect and social justice: the underlying principles that support mental well-being.

Other priorities for action include:

  • improving social, cultural and economic conditions that support family and community life;
  • providing young people with education and employment opportunities that promote and protect mental health;
  • forging partnerships between the health and other sectors; and
  • reducing policy and environmental barriers to social contact.

Additionally, the WHO European Mental Health Action Plan (2013) addresses the importance of promoting mental well-being. It also defines outcomes and proposes actions for Member States. These include:

  • mental health education and health promotion in schools;
  • the establishment of healthy communities;
  • the creation of incentives for employers to reduce job-related stress; and
  • the provision of pathways and opportunities to improve dignity at an old age.

Objective 1 states, ‘Everyone has an equal opportunity to realize mental well-being throughout their lifespan, particularly those who are most vulnerable or at risk.’

Improving mental health and well-being contributes to the social and economic prosperity of the WHO European Region.