Mental Health an Essential Component of Health

Mental health is an essential component of health and is much more than the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. According to the WHO, mental health is “a state of well-being that enables everyone to realize their potential, to cope with normal life difficulties, to work successfully and productively.”

The three dimensions of mental health

Positive mental health, which covers well-being, personal fulfillment, psychological resources and the individual’s ability to act in their social roles.

Reactive psychological distress (induced by stressful situations and existential difficulties (mourning, relationship failure, school failure, etc.), which is not necessarily indicative of a mental disorder. The symptoms, relatively common and most often anxious or depressive, generally appear in a context of life accidents or stressful events and can be transient. In the majority of cases, people in psychological distress do not require specialized care. However, poorly identified or poorly accompanied, and psychological distress can tip over the person in an illness or increasing social difficulties. When it is temporary and follows a stressful event, it is considered a normal adaptive reaction. On the other hand, when it becomes intense and long-lasting, it is considered a normal adaptive can be an indicator of a mental disorder.

Psychiatric disorders of variable duration, more or less severe and/or disabling, which refer to diagnostic classifications referring to criteria, to targeted therapeutic actions, and which require medical treatment. The consequences linked to psychiatric disorders can be major: 

  • Handicaps,
  • Premature death,
  • Discrimination ET exclusion.

Mental disorders, a high prevalence

Mental disorders present a very wide spectrum, ranging from mild and occasional disorders to severe, chronic and disabling disorders. Mental disorders represent one of the main burdens in terms of years of life lost in good health. In America, “psychiatric illnesses” associated with all “chronic treatments with psychotropic drugs” (including anxiolytics and hypnotics) represent 14% of total expenditure and the first item of expenditure for Health Insurance. They represent the first cause of years lived with a disability. They are responsible for 35 to 45% of absenteeism at work. 

Mental health, a priority issue

Mental health is a real public health issue and a priority for the agency. Our mental health program is transversal and is part of the continuum of our missions: from knowledge to action. Its objective is to improve the well-being of the population and to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with mental disorders. This program gives priority to monitoring and preventing the most common disorders in the general population, i.e. anxiety and depression, as well as suicidal behavior. 

Mental health surveillance

Mental health surveillance concerns both the population as a whole and certain specific populations such as workers, adolescents, children and young people, people under the control of the law. 

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