International Journal of Health Promotion and Education | 2019

Promoting positive mental health



I am writing this letter in January, a month that is known in the UK for being a difficult time for mental health; there is a low feeling following the festive period, with many having debt problems, the days are short and it is dark at 4 pm. The third Monday in January has even been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’, a term attributed to a psychologist (Cliff Arnall) and now well-known following adoption as a marketing tool by holiday companies. All this offers some context to the thought and preparation that I and my fellow Trustees are currently giving to the IHPE Conference 2019 – ‘Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing: Current Evidence and Practice’ (Wednesday 15th May, Coventry University). In the UK and other western countries, mental health promotion, as part of the health and wellbeing agenda, has had increased attention in recent years. An holistic approach to health recognises the impact poor mental health has on physical well-being, and people experiencing physical disease (whether acute or chronic) may in addition experience poor mental health. It is perhaps not surprising that anyone suffering from depression or any other mental health issue is less likely to make healthy choices in other areas of their lives. Similarly, many people faced with life-threatening or life-limiting diseases find mental health problems as much of a challenge as their physical problems; depression following stroke is a regular occurrence. Indeed, mental health problems are common in the general population, but are less likely to be admitted to or talked about than physical disease. For example, in England, it is estimated that one in six people will have experienced a common mental disorder – depression or anxiety for example – in the past week and women are more likely to have experienced this than men (Baker, 2018). Mental health problems affect people of all ages and backgrounds, and so mental health promotion should apply across the life course too. A decade ago Foresight (2008) – the UK government’s futures think-tank – published a report which considered how to improve everyone’s mental capital and mental wellbeing throughout life. The report highlighted a lack of parity with physical health in allocation of resources and the esteem attributed to mental health. It noted the stigma attached to mental health and stated that improvement was dependant on three actions:

Volume 57
Pages 112 - 114
DOI 10.1080/14635240.2019.1579477
Language English
Journal International Journal of Health Promotion and Education

Full Text