Understanding Mental Health and Mental Illness
To progress collective action in mental health, we need to first have a shared understanding of what is meant by the terms mental health and mental ill-health.
‘Mental health’ is sometimes misunderstood and interpreted as referring to mental ill-health. This may be because historically ‘mental health services’ were mainly concerned with the treatment of mental illness. However, mental health is a desirable quality in its own right and is more than the absence of illness.
Mental health and mental-ill health are influenced by one another but are not polar opposites. The absence of mental health does not necessarily mean the presence of mental illness. Similarly, if someone has a mental illness, this does not mean a complete absence of mental health.