Promoting mental health and wellbeing

Mental health is a state of wellbeing in which every person realises their potential and can cope with normal life stresses.

Mental disorder refers to a spectrum of conditions of different severity and duration. These include depression, anxiety and substance use disorders and less common and usually more severe disorders such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder.

Impact and scale of the issue

Mental illness is a substantial burden for individuals and communities. Just over 45 per cent of Australians adults will experience a mental health-related condition at some point in their life. Serious mental illness affects about three per cent of Tasmanians every day.

Mental illness is one of the top three leading causes of disease and injury in Australia, and it is the leading cause of non-fatal disease. It typically affects people at important developmental stages, such as late adolescence and early adulthood, and in the most productive years of life.

Health inequity and mental health and wellbeing

Evidence shows that mental ill-health or psychological distress are associated with:

  • racial discrimination
  • homelessness
  • low levels of education, low-status occupations and low incomes
  • unemployment
  • social disadvantage
  • homophobia
  • gender.

Evidence that health promotion action can bring about change

Wellbeing, quality of life, a sense of control over one's health, and the ability to bounce back from adversity are key components of recovery approaches and are now the focus of mental health service delivery and mental health promotion.

An emerging area in increasing mental health is the practice of incorporating health promotion with the arts (music, dance, theatre, writing, and drawing or painting).

Incorporating promotion, prevention and early intervention can improve mental health and reduce the prevalence of mental disorders across the population.