Understanding mental health

Mental Health Europe’s main mission is to ensure mental health remains on the European agenda and that people living with mental ill health and psychosocial disabilities can actively participate in and contribute to society.

This can only happen through a good understanding of mental health at European and international level. Mental health is not only about health but about the social issues and barriers we face, how we work, where we live, and our basic human rights: it cannot be addressed in silos.

That is why Mental Health Europe advocates for a psychosocial approach to mental health, which instead of defining mental ill-health as a ‘disease’ or ‘illness’ caused by purely biological factors, looks to a person’s life and social environment, treating these factors as equally important in understanding well-being and mental ill health. It appreciates the lived experience of people who have experienced mental distress and recognises them as experts in their own lives.

We all have mental health. Mental health is not only about disease or the absence of it. It is also about wellbeing and experiencing positive emotions: it is about us, our lives, work, relationships, physical health and social environment.

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