What is public mental health ?

 

PROFESSOR KAMALDEEP BHUI

Public mental health policy aims to improve population health and well being, and prevent the onset of mental and emotional distress and bolster resilience. Those suffering diagnoses illnesses should also benefit from universal policies, or benefit from targeted interventions as part of their care package.

See royal college of psychiatrists public mental health website for more information and   briefings from UK experts on how preventive psychiatry and health promotion are at the heart of public mental health.

Based on the UK Faculty of Public Health’s definitions and scope of public health and adapting these, the following are the components of Public Mental Health.

Public mental health can be defined as:

The science and art of promoting and protecting mental capital, mental health, emotional wellbeing and preventing mental illness; and prolonging life and the quality of life through the organised efforts of society.

It is population based and

  • emphasises collective responsibility for mental health, its protection and prevention of mental distress and disorders
  • recognises the key role of the state, linked to a concern for the underlying socio-economic and wider determinants of mental and physical and emotional health and well being, as well as mental disorders
  • emphasises partnerships with all those who contribute to the health and wellbeing of the population.

Three key domains of public mental health practice:

Health Improvement

  • Inequalities
  • Education
  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Family/community
  • Lifestyles
  • Surveillance and monitoring of specific diseases and risk factors

Improving services

  • Clinical effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Service planning
  • Audit and evaluation
  • Clinical governance
  • Equity

Health Protection

Parity of physical and mental health protection including attention to

*  Infectious, endocrine and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases

*  Nutrition and healthy lifestyles

*  Child protection and prevention of violence and abuse

*  Managing work stress and occupational hazards

*  Emergency responses to disaster and conflict

*  Environmental health hazards including global warming

*  Building connected communities including social capital and social networks

*  Participating in society and sharing in the political and social and economic successes and crime prevention

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