Director of Public Health Annual Report 2023: Mental Health Matters

mental health matters

3. What do we mean by Mental Health?

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “a state of mental wellbeing that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community".

Mental well-being is often measured through“quality of life” indicators which include things that are important for mental health such as our personal relationships and finances.

Many people have good mental health. However, this can change over time. Our mental health is affected by situations and changes in our lives and these can, for some people, lead to mental health conditions and disorders.

At any point in time about 1 in 6 people in England are affected by common mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Common mental health conditions may be lifelong, with periods in which symptoms are better (or gone completely) and other times when they are worse. There is wide variation in how severely these affect people but they can cause significant long-term disability.

Around 1 in every 100 patients registered with a GP in England suffer from a more severe mental illness (or “SMI”) including conditions such as schizophrenia, psychosis and bipolar disorder. These conditions may affect people’s ability to engage in everyday activities and work. However, it is possible to manage many symptoms with appropriate treatment and support.

Mental health conditions are common but many people don’t feel comfortable talking about their mental health. This is partly because there is still a stigma in some parts of our society about people experiencing mental health issues. This report seeks to encourage open conversations about mental health and recommends the use of inclusive mental health language.