Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same things. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.
Preventing mental illness and promoting good mental health involves actions to create living conditions and environments that support mental health and allow people to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles. These include a range of actions to increase the chances of more people experiencing better mental health, such as:
- Early childhood interventions (for example, home visits for pregnant women and programs that help young children build social and emotional skills).
- Social support for elderly persons.
- Programs targeted to people affected by disasters or other traumatic events.
- Mental health interventions at work (for example, stress prevention programs).
- Violence prevention strategies (for example, reducing violence in the community and the home).
- Campaigns to change the culture of mental health so that all of those in need receive the care and support they deserve.