After engaging with this material you will

  1. Gain an insight into the planning of mental health promotion programmes.
  2. Consider how you might plan a mental health promotion programme.
  3. Gain access to further resources to develop your knowledge and awareness of mental health promotion programmes.

While it has been stated that mental health is a global concern, in practice, mental health promotion is frequently overlooked in health promotion programmes. However, the WHO definitions of health and the Ottawa Charter describe mental health as an integral part of health (Sturgeon, 2006). To improve health and mental health, prevention and treatment of mental health problems are required. Recent research has demonstrated that individuals with low positive mental health are at risk of developing depression (Min, et al., 2013). Moreover, trends in recent years has moved towards service user participation among mental health promotion programmes (Owens, et al., 2009; Verhaeghe, et al. 2011).

Here we describe an innovative example of one Finnish mental health promotion programme called “Key to the Mind”. The leader of this project was a person with a nursing background. The 'Key to the Mind' project for developing mental health and substance abuse services in Southern Finland constitutes part of the 'Kaste' program for 2010-2015. The 'Kaste' program is a national development plan for social and health care services headed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The 'Key to the Mind' project was granted government aid of 10,2 M€ (13,6 M€ total budget) and the project was administered by the City of Vantaa. You can find more information about the project at the website the Key to the Mind.

In the following video we have interviewed the leader of the Key to the Mind Ms Marjo Kurki.

Best practice guidelines for mental health promotion programmes has been established by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2010) guidelines are for children and young people and older adults mental health promotion programmes. Similar ideas could be found in the publication by WHO.

Guidelines for mental health promotion programmes:

  • Identify and address a specific population for your programme/initiative
  • Address and modify risk and protective factors, including determinants of health that indicate possible mental health concerns for older people
  • Intervene in multiple settings
  • Support professionals and non-professionals in establishing caring and trusting relationships with older people
  • Provide a focus on empowerment and resilience
  • Promote comprehensive support systems
  • Adopt multiple interventions
  • Ensure that information and services provided are culturally appropriate, equitable and holistic
  • Involve multiple stakeholders
  • Address opportunities for organizational change, policy development and advocacy
  • Demonstrate a long-term commitment to program planning, development and evaluation

Review the following short video Think about how you might start planning your own mental health promotion programme in your community.

The following videos are about the goals and aims of the 'Key to the Mind project'. Think about what kind of goals and aims you would set as part of your mental health promotion programme.

“Best practices in health promotion are those sets of processes and activities that are consistent with health promotion values/goals/ethics, theories/beliefs, evidence, and understanding of the environment, and that are most likely to achieve health promotion goals in a given situation” (Kahan & Goodstadt, 2005, p. 8).

When a mental health promotion programme is being planned and implemented, it is important that a plan for evaluation is also developed in tandem with other activities (Central Sydney Area Health Service and NSW Health, 1994). Ruddick (2013) presents ten elements to assist practitioners to review mental health promotion programmes. These elements are divided into two parts.

First, elements to promote:

  1. Self-esteem
  2. Self management skills
  3. Social participation
  4. Environmental quality
  5. Emotional processing

Second, elements to reduce:

  1. Stress
  2. Social alienation
  3. Environmental deprivation
  4. Emotional abuse
  5. Emotional negligence

You can take a look at these two short video clips about success stories, challenges and results from the 'Key to the Mind' project. Before you do, choose one mental health promotion programme in your country and think about how you could start evaluating it.

You can look at this short video about what to remember when developing a mental health promotion programme.

There are also many ehealth activities that have been designed which are aimed at promoting mental health and building resilience. Two examples can be found at the following links:

  1. SuperBetter
  2. “Daily tools for stress and anxiety

The literature on mental health promotion reveals many complex issues related to individual, community and societal mental health. There are also guidelines available for planning, developing, implementing and evaluating mental health promotion programmes.The overall message is that mental health promotion is still a relatively new but growing field. However, more evidence based interventions to support positive mental health are required. Moreover, comprehensive evaluation about the effectiveness of mental health promotion programmes is also necessary.

Central Sydney Area Health Service and NSW Health (1994) Program Management Guidelines for Health Promotion. State Health Publication (HP) 94-043. ISBN 0 7310 0576 7. Sydney, Australia.

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2010) Best Practice Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion Programmes: Older Adults 55+. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto.

Conley, C., Durlak, J., Dickson, D. (2013) An evaluative review of outcome research on universal mental health promotion and prevention programs for higher education students. Journal of American College Health, 61(5):286-301.

Kahan, B. & Goodstadt, M. (2005). The IDM Manual: A Guide to the IDM (Interactive Domain Model) Best Practices Approach to Better Health (3rd. ed.). Toronto: Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto. Accessed October 8, 2009.

Mann, M., Hosman, C., Scahaalma, H., de Vries, N. (2004) Self-esteem in a broad-spectrum approach for mental health promotion. Health education research, 19(4):357-372.

Min, J-A., Lee, C-U., Lee, C. (2013) Mental health promotion and illness prevention: A challenge for psychiatrist. Psychiatry Investing, 10:307-316.

Owens, C., Crone, D., Kilgour, L., Ansari, W. (2009) The place and promotion of well-being in mental health services: a qualitative investigation. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 17, 1-8.

Ruddick, F. (2013) Promoting mental health and well-being. Nursing Standard, 13(27): 35-40.

Sturgeon, S. (2006) Promoting mental health as an essential aspect of health promotion. Health Promotion International, 21 (suppl 1): 36-41.

Verhaeghe, N., De Maeseneer, J., Maes, L., Van Heeringen, C., Annemans, L. (2011) Perceptions of mental health nurses and patients about health promotion in mental health care: A literatur review. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 18: 487-492.

Key to the Mind- project website

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.