Better mental health for all: A public health approach to mental health improvement

This content mentions suicide or suicidal thoughts. Please read with care. There are details of where to find help at the bottom of this page.

This report focuses on what can be done individually and collectively to enhance the mental health of individuals, families and communities by using a public health approach. It is intended as a resource for public health practitioners to support the development of knowledge and skills in public mental health. It presents the latter from the perspective of those working within public health, giving valuable interdisciplinary perspectives that focus on achieving health gains across the population.

Public mental health is fundamental to public health in general because mental health is a determinant and consequence of physical health as well as a resource for living. A public mental health approach is concerned with promoting mental wellbeing, preventing future mental health problems and with recovery from mental health problems. The Faculty of Public Health has published this resource to encourage a proportionate universal approach with a focus on the promotion of mental wellbeing and on high level support for those at risk of poor mental health and mental health problems. In this way the resource complements recovery and prevention approaches.

  • Public mental health: why bother? - maps out why mental health is an important and often overlooked aspect of overall health.
  • Creating mentally healthy people: risk and protective factors - outlines the risk and protective factors through the life course and across communities.
  • Taking action for public mental health - addresses approaches and interventions to improve mental health at different stages of the life course and in different settings.
  • What can public mental health practitioners and other professionals do to support their own mental wellbeing? - offers a practical guide to enable practitioners to support their own mental wellbeing.
Cover of the better mental health for all publication

Case studies

Throughout the report, case studies showcase examples of innovative public mental health programmes and projects being run across the UK. Three of these case studies were developed into videos.

1) Supporting good public health in Torbay and working to prevent male suicides:

2) Addressing emotional wellbeing as part of the public health response to flood recovery in Somerset:

3) Supporting good public health in Lanarkshire by using Social Prescribing through the Well Connected:

If you are feeling like ending your life or feel unable to keep yourself safe, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress. If you feel affected by the content you have read, please see our get help page for support.

Blog: 'Reform of Public Health England: what next for public mental health?'

Our thoughts on what the reform of Public Health England means for the future of public mental health.

No health without mental health

None of us will lead a long life without being limited by our mental health at some point, for a shorter or longer period. This is why we have always believed in nurturing and protecting everyone’s mental health.

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