What are Mental Health Problems?

The most common and disabling mental health problems are depression, anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders.

Mental health problems are very common. In any one year about one in five adult Australians experience a common mental health problem.

Many people suffer a mental illness for a long time before they seek help. Furthermore, alcohol and other drug problems frequently occur with depression, anxiety and psychosis.

World Health Organisation states:

There is no health without mental health

  • The essential dimension of mental health is clear from the definition of health in the WHO constitution: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." Mental health is an integral part of this definition.

  • The goals and traditions of public health and health promotion can be applied just as usefully in the field of mental health as they have been in the prevention of infectious or of cardio-vascular diseases, for example.

Mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders

  • Mental health can be conceptualized as a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

  • In this positive sense, mental health is the foundation for well-being and effective functioning for an individual and for a community. This core concept of mental health is consistent with its wide and varied interpretation across cultures.

  • Mental health promotion covers a variety of strategies, all aimed at having a positive impact on mental health. Like all health promotion, mental health promotion involves actions that create living conditions and environments to support mental health and allow people to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles. This includes a range of actions that increase the chances of more people experiencing better mental health.