Mental Health Promotion
Mental health promotion should focus on actions that make people ‘mentally healthy’. The extent to which an individual or a population is ‘mentally healthy’ is constantly changing. It will respond to the circumstances confronting an individual or community such as employment status, quality of housing, access to leisure and a sense of security.
Given the wide range of factors that can affect mental health, improvements to the social, environmental and economic circumstances of people’s lives are essential if they are not to experience poor mental health as an understandable consequence of their living conditions. (Wilkinson R, 1996). Individual mental health will also vary in accordance with an individual’s ability to deal with these factors. This is often termed ‘resilience’, and building individual resilience (for example, through promoting self esteem, or by providing social support) is key part of promoting mental health.
However, it has been argued that ‘one to one intervention is hopeless … it’s humane, it’s kind’, but it’s hopeless … because of the unbridgeable gap between the large numbers in need and the small numbers of helpers’. (Albee G W, 1992). Therefore effective mental health promotion requires an ‘ecological’ approach that sees ‘people as developing persons living in a context within an immediate and wider environment’ (Dodd C and Leob D, 1994), and addresses these wider determinants of mental health.
Mental health promotion actions need to address issues both within individuals (influencing their knowledge, attitudes and behaviours) and within the wide range of social, environmental and cultural conditions in which these attitudes and behaviours occur.
Mental Wellbeing Impact Assessment (MWIA) is a tool that can support the integration of measures to promote and protect mental wellbeing into any policy, programme or service. MWIA enables you assess the impact of a policy, programme or service on the mental wellbeing of a population. The tool enables you to identify potential positive impacts and possible negative impacts and then identify recommendations for how to minimise or mitigate negative impacts and enhance positive impacts. It engages a wide range of stakeholders including communities and service users in sharing perspectives on how policies and services impact on mental wellbeing and enhances understanding of the components of positive mental health.
5 Easy Steps to Improve Your Wellbeing
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