The goal of mental health promotion is to enhance awareness and understanding of mental health issues, reduce stigma and promote positive mental health to the public. Mental health promotion includes education and training of human resources in the formal mental health/addiction system.
The concept of mental health literacy is often used in the context of mental health promotion. Mental health literacy refers to the knowledge, beliefs and abilities that support the recognition, management or prevention of mental illnesses or substance use disorders. A high public level of mental health literacy makes early recognition of and appropriate intervention in mental illnesses and substance use disorders more likely. It is also effective in reducing stigma.
Mental health promotion is highly linked to prevention as well and there are three main types. Primary prevention is directed at averting a potential mental health/substance use problem. Secondary prevention is directed at early detection and includes preventing or delaying onset or mitigate a mental health problem. Tertiary prevention is directed at minimizing disability or avoiding relapse in a successfully treated, stable patient/client.
Early intervention is fundamental to stop progression towards full-blown disease; it is important also in controlling symptoms and improving outcomes. The earlier the initiation of a proper course of treatment, the better the patient’s/client’s prognosis. Early intervention is particularly important in children and adolescents. The onset of most adult mental disorders occurs during adolescence and young adulthood when early intervention can significantly reduce disruptions to an individual’s educational, occupational, and social development. Gains have a lifelong impact.
Improving social conditions is necessary for overall good mental health (e.g. healthy physical and social environments, strong coping skills, etc.) of Canadians and is essential to support positive mental health and recovery from mental disorders. This includes addressing the root causes of mental illness and addiction through public policy with respect to poverty, homelessness, education, etc., and the need to develop community capacity to deal adequately with these issues.