The World Health Organization (WHO) conceives mental health as a “state of well-being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and can make a contribution to their community”. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects the way we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.1 Mental health is important at all stages of life, from childhood and adolescence to adulthood.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same thing. Mental illnesses are health conditions that involve changes in emotions, thinking, or behavior (or a combination of these). At the same time, demographic changes in some countries are increasing the proportion of older people, contributing to the increasing prevalence of dementia and other mental health conditions related to aging. Exposure to unfavorable social, economic, geopolitical and environmental circumstances, such as poverty, violence, inequality and environmental deprivation, also increases people's risk of mental health problems.
Integrate mental health into the environments and experiences of daily life, putting the well-being of communities at the center and engaging partners inside and outside the health sector to help individuals, families and societies to thrive and prosper. Most mental illnesses don't get better on their own and, if left untreated, can worsen over time and cause serious problems. The Western Pacific region is facing an imminent mental health crisis, caused by social pressures, vulnerabilities and unrest, amplified by the widespread impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities around the world. However, interacting determinants of mental health serve to improve or undermine mental health.
Promoting and protecting mental health at work is an area of growing interest and can be supported through legislation and regulation, organizational strategies, manager training and interventions for workers. Chronic exposure to adversity due to these and other risk factors increases the likelihood of developing a mental health condition throughout life. Lifestyle changes, such as good nutrition, exercise, and adequate sleep with good sleep hygiene, can contribute to mental health and recovery. Mental illnesses, also called mental health disorders, refer to a wide range of mental health disorders that affect mood, thinking, and behavior.
In the context of national efforts to strengthen mental health, it is vital not only to protect and promote the mental well-being of all, but also to address the needs of people with mental health problems. Some cultures view and describe mental health conditions differently than most doctors in the United States. Individual psychological and biological factors, such as emotional abilities, substance use, and genetics, can make people more vulnerable to mental health problems.