There is no health without mental health. This simple statement reminds us that the holistic definition of health proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) includes affective and psychological dimensions as well as a preoccupation for people's wellbeing.
||This implies that good mental health is a resource for life and a necessary condition to live a life that is healthy, socially fulfilling and economically productive.|
In its broad definition, it is more than the absence of disease; it consists of a state of ‘flourishing,' which is a combination of feeling good and functioning effectively most of the time (The Government Office for Science, 2008; Huppert & So, 2013).
Mental health can fluctuate, from a state of languishing to a state of flourishing. These fluctuations are associated with physical health, productivity, success in school and education, relationships, employment and earnings, and quality of life of all individuals, including those who have a mental disorder (Keyes, 2002; 2007).
In Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Commission committed to a major project which led to a strategy: the document “Changing Directions, Changing Lives,” published in 2012. Whether it is at the federal, provincial or local level, many interventions are being developed to renew our perspective in order to improve the mental health status of the whole population, to keep people from becoming mentally ill, and to improve the quality of life of those living with a mental disorder; all the while necessarily acknowledging the complexity inherent in such projects.
To improve population mental health and reduce inequalities in mental health, interventions, including public policies, aim at the determinants of mental health at the structural and environmental levels, on social dimensions within families and communities, and on individual level factors. As for other dimensions of health, interventions and policies must take a life course perspective into account. This means considering how the determinants of mental health may have more impact during specific developmental stages and life transitions, as well as the fact that they add up, intersect, influence one another, and change throughout the life course.
To support public health actors across Canada in their work regarding population mental health, the NCCHPP is working in the area of population mental health. We are developing some of this work as part of a collective project along with the five other National Collaborating Centres for Public Health (NCCPH).
Various activities and resources are being developed within this project :
1) A Briefing Note: “Framework for healthy public policies favouring mental health”
2) A webinar on Defining a Population Mental Health Framework for Public Health
3) A Scan of Mental Health Strategies across Canada;
4) A briefing note : “Defining a Population Mental Health Framework for Public Health”,
5) A survey for Canadian public health practitioners' to assess resource needs in the area of population mental health, to fill out the survey, click here.
-Huppert, F. A. & So, T. T. C. (2013). Flourishing Across Europe : Application of a New Conceptual Framework for Defining Well-Being. Soc Indic Res, 110, 837-861.
-Keyes, C. L. M. (2007). Promoting and protecting mental health as flourishing. A complementary strategy for improving mental health. American Psychologist, 62(2), 95-108.
-Keyes, C. L. M. (2002). The Mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43(2), 207-222.
-Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2012). Changing directions, changing lives: The mental health strategy for Canada. Retrieved from : http://strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca/pdf/strategy-text-en.pdf
-The Government Office for Science. (2008). Foresight mental capital and wellbeing project. Final Project Report. London: Retrieved from: http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/corporate/migratedD/ec_group/113-08-FO_b
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