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The promotion of Mental Health works at three levels and each level is relevant to the whole population, to individuals at risk, vulnerable groups and people with mental health problems.

  1. Strengthening individuals - or increasing emotional resilience through interventions to promote self-esteem, life and coping skills, negotiating relationships and parenting skills
  2. Strengthening communities - this involves increasing social inclusion and participation, improving environments, developing health and social services which support mental health, workplace health, community safety and self help networks
  3. Reducing structural barriers to mental health - through initiatives to reduce discrimination and inequalities and to promote access to education, meaningful employment, housing, and support for those who are vulnerable.

Mental Health is thus the emotional and spiritual resilience, which enables us to enjoy life and to survive pain and disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of well-being and an underlying belief on our own and other’s dignity and worth.

Recent transnational and national policies on mental health adopt a broader view than the traditional psychiatric model.   This approach is directed at promoting good mental health, preventing mental ill health and ensuring early intervention when mental health problems occur.

It involves looking beyond prevention, to the relationship between mental well-being and physical health; behavioural problems; child abuse; violence and drug and alcohol abuse.   In promotion and prevention policies such social determinants as living and working conditions; homelessness; poverty, social networks and support, unemployment and risk taking behaviour are included. In effect it means addressing the mental health impact of public policies, programmes and plans.

European Union Policy

In the EU Green paper “Improving the mental health of the population: Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union” proposes to establish an EU Strategy on mental health to provide a framework for exchange and cooperation between Member States; by helping to increase the coherence of actions in the health and non health policy sectors in Member States and at European Union level. http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/health_consumer/index_en.htm

The European Treaty in Article 1`52 stipulates that all Community policies and activities shall ensure a high level of human health protection and shall complement national policies for improving health, preventing illness and disease, health information and education and shall encourage cooperation between Member States in these fields. Member States are exclusively competent for the organisation of health services, care and treatment.

Annex 5 of the Green Paper carries a Summary of selected European Commission activities relating to Mental Health between 1997 and 2004 based on these competencies within the Community policies and actions.

The Support Project

SUPPORT - www.supportproject.eu - is a collaborative project co-funded by the European Commission under Priority Action Area Three (Health Determinants) of the Community Action Plan on Public Health. It carries news and information on current projects on mental health promotion and prevention as well the Goals of the SUPPORT project are:

  • Supporting the EU Mental Health Strategy   
  • Engaging and Collaborating With Stakeholders
  • Promoting the Exchange of Knowledge and Practice  
  • Making Policy Contributions in Relevant Forums  
  • Facilitating the Use of Mental Health Information

WHO Policy

The World Health Organisation has come to recognise the large burdens placed on society by mental illness.  In addition, it has laid emphasis on the need for health promotion to be a part of the response to health threats, including those that relate to mental illness.

In recent years WHO have taken part in a number of policy initiatives in the area of mental. While many of these include elements directed at mental illness, some also are concerned with the promotion of mental health. These initiatives and publications include:

International Policy Examples

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