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Mental health can be conceived of as having both positive and negative elements. Mental wellness is generally viewed as a positive attribute, so that a person can reach enhanced levels of mental health, even if they do not have any diagnosable mental illness. This definition of mental health highlights emotional wellbeing, the capacity to live a full and creative life and the flexibility to deal with life's inevitable challenges as being important.

A mental disorder or mental illness is a clinically significant psychological pattern that occurs in an individual and is usually associated with distress or disability that is not expected as part of normal development or culture.

The main emphasis in ProMenPol is on mental wellbeing and mental health promotion, rather than on mental illness. However, there is an imbalance in the statistics available on mental wellbeing and mental illness. Many statistics are available on mental illness, though there are difficulties in making transnational comparisons between them, while there are very few available at transnational level in relation to mental wellbeing.

This page points to some of the major statistical sources that are available and also to some projects and reports that have addressed mental health issues at European level that have a statistical basis, especially in the settings of interest to ProMenPol.

Indicators of Mental Well Being

There are relatively few sources of comparative indicators of mental wellbeing. Perhaps the best are available from the European Quality of Life Survey, the European Community Household Panel survey (ECHP), and a number of ad hoc Eurobarometer modules. A useful summary of the data from these surveys is available at:

EU Health Reports under the Community Public Health Programme

  • Overview of EU Health Reports
  • The State of Mental Health in the European Union, 2004: This report describes and compares the state of mental health in the European Union and in Norway, in the context of longstanding efforts by EU public health programmes to promote good mental health and to prevent mental ill-health. This report documents what is known about the population's mental health status in the EU, and its determinants. It emphasises the statistics that are available in relation to mental illness. 
  • The EU has recently published a set of overviews, by individual country, on the situation of Mental Health Promotion and Mental Disease Prevention developed so far in each of the EU countries and activities to date. Information can be downloaded at:

Eurobarometer about Public Health Issues

Health Evidence Network (HEN)

Work Health Project (2007)

  • Hearts and Minds in Europe - A European work-related public health report on cardiovascular diseases and mental health. This project produced an analysis of EU level data on the impact of positive and negative workplace factors on mental health.