Reframing Mental Health

Mental Health ≠ Absence of Mental Illness
"...evidence indicates that the absence of mental illness does not imply the presence of mental health, and the absence of mental health does not imply the presence of mental illness”2

How we think about mental health has a powerful influence in how people take care of their mental health and how educational and healthcare services are perceived, talked about, and implemented. If, for example, the term mental health is perceived to mean services for people with mental illness, then the general public and service providers will only focus on treating mental illness. In contrast, if mental health is perceived as a positive state of functioning important for overall health, everyone will be committed to helping all individuals develop and maintain mental health.

In order to help create healthy schools, families and communities, it is important to consciously reframe ‘mental health’ – as a positive state of functioning – one that is different from mental illness.2

Every Moment Counts emphasizes reframing ‘mental health’ to focus on positive mental health, mental health promotion, and mental health literacy.

"The social science literature of the past two decades has confirmed that the perspective from which stories are told, or how they are framed, is a powerful influence in assigning responsibility for an issue or problem".1

1 Lochner, A. & Bales, S. N. (2006). Framing youth issues for public support. New Directions for Youth Development, 2006, 11-23.
2 Keyes, C. L. (2007). Promoting and protecting mental health as flourishing: A complementary strategy for improving national mental health. American Psychologist, 62, 95-108.