Mental Health Promotion


Mental health is a "state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community." - World Health Organization

As the state public health agency, the Minnesota Department of Health works closely with state and local agencies and committed citizens to foster environments where everyone has an opportunity to live, learn, work, and fully participate in communities where they experience joy, health, love and hope. To create caring communities in which everyone has an opportunity to thrive, MDH uses a public health approach to promote mental health and overall wellbeing.

What is a public health approach to mental health?

The public health approach to mental health:

  • Recognizes the interrelatedness of mental health and physical health
  • Focuses on prevention and promotes mental health across the lifespan,
  • Identifies risks that may contribute to illness or disability, as well as protective factors that protect against the development of illness or disability and/or limit its severity,
  • Provides people with the knowledge and skills to maintain optimal health and wellbeing, and
  • Brings together individuals, communities and a variety of systems (health, human services, schools, etc.) to work collaboratively towards better mental health for all.

Public health also plays an important role in early intervention and recovery. Communities can often reduce the severity of mental illness and promote recovery through early identification of individuals who may need assistance or support. Public health systems can also connect individuals with community resources and provide information on maintaining positive mental health across the lifespan to help support people living with mental illness.

What does mental health promotion look like in your community?

Here are a few examples:

Programs that help young people develop problem-solving and coping skills, either in school or in community-based organizations, such as peer leadership activities, suicide prevention curricula, and life skills curricula. Mentoring programs and activities that help a young person connect with a caring adult.
Home visiting programs in which nurses or other professionals work directly with families to support parents, provide education about child development and promote parent-child interaction. Any activities that promote exercise, sleep, and good nutrition.
Projects that encourage help-seeking and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.  

Mental health promotion projects encourage help-seeking and reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

Any efforts to build or enhance an individual´s social competence, self-esteem and sense of wellbeing will help to promote mental health.