What does prevention mean and how can it help?

We know that mental health problems affect millions of us, in our families, communities and workplaces.

We all have mental health that will fluctuate in response to life events. It would be unwise to suggest that prevention is only for those who currently feel ‘in good health’. 

We define prevention in the ‘public health’ (the health of the population as a whole) sense of the term. Under this lens...

There are three types of prevention:

  1. Primary prevention: preventing problems before they emerge
  2. Secondary prevention: prevention for people exposed to inequality 
  3. Tertiary prevention: prevention for those already experiencing problems

If prevention is a solution, why hasn’t it happened yet?

Building a society where mental health is everyone’s business should be a no-brainer. Prevention is possible. 

But it’s a difficult personal goal because,often,our everyday stresses overwhelm us, and we tend to only understand the value of prevention once we have reached crisis point. It’s a hard political sell because it is achieved through concentrated,cross-government and long-term commitments that go beyond the average political cycles.It’s a high social aim because several of the determinants allowing prevention can only be shifted through addressing issues of social justice. 

And it represents a big community shift because we’ve mystified mental ill-health diagnoses for centuries and we’re still catching up on the stigma we’ve allowed to permeate our way of thinking.

The challenges are many. But not disheartening.We need to urgently start talking about prevention and mental health.

Read how to apply prevention to your own life