Understanding prevention and promotion

Prevention and promotion approaches provide an opportunity for meaningful partnerships and meaningful involvement from the whole of society.

What is the prevention of mental ill-health?

Prevention initiatives focus on reducing risk factors for mental ill-health and enhancing protective factors.

Risk factors increase the likelihood that mental health problems and illnesses will occur, or can make existing issues more severe or long-lasting. Protective factors enhance and protect mental health, and reduce the likelihood that mental ill-health will occur.

Risk and protective factors occur within the context of everyday life (such as homes, schools, workplaces, social and cultural activities, the media, the community and within health and other services).This means that prevention initiatives must take place across a range of settings and involve contributions from many different sectors and organisations.

Types of prevention activity

What is the promotion of mental health and wellbeing?

The promotion of mental health and wellbeing (often called mental health promotion) is focused on increasing social and emotional wellbeing and quality of life. Initiatives can target entire populations, groups of people or individuals, and can occur in any setting. It is applicable to all people, including those currently experiencing or recovering from a diagnosed mental illness.

Types of promotion activity

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion provides a good overview of the range of relevant activities. Some examples of mental health related strategies include:

Featured resource


Prevention First

Prevention First is a plain language document that provides a new national framework for strategic action to prevent mental ill-health and promote mental health and wellbeing.

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