Importance of emotional wellbeing and mental health

Posted: 2016-10-12
Written by: EU Network
Category: Battle of ideas
Tagged: youth toolkit students mental health health


This is Mental Health Awareness Week and World Mental Health day on 10 October every year.  The theme for World Mental Health Day 2016 is psychological and mental health first aid. The overall objective of  Mental Health Awareness Week is to raise community awareness of mental health issues around the world  and is held every October.

Emotional well-being is a term that has seen increasing use in recent decades.  Emotional well-being  refers to the emotional quality of an individual's everyday experience, for example, the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one's life pleasant or unpleasant.
Approximately 450 million people suffer from mental and behavioural disorders worldwide and 1 in 4 will develop one or more of these disorders during their lifetime.


Researchers have found  a strong link between good mental health and good physical health. The implications of decreased emotional well-being are related to mental health concerns such as stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can contribute to digestive disorders, trouble sleeping, general lack of energy, heart disease, and other health issues. Your mood and your mental health affect every aspect of your life, from how you feel about yourself to your relationships with others and your physical health.

Mental health is an integral part of health and well-being, as reflected in the definition of health of the World Health Organization: “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud's definition of mental health is: the capacity "to work and to love".

The economic impact of mental disorders is wide-ranging, long-lasting and enormous. The current global financial and migration crisis provides an example of a macroeconomic factor leading to cuts in funding despite a need for more mental health and social services because of higher rates of mental disorders and suicide as well as the emergence of new vulnerable groups, for example, the unemployed people. In many societies, mental disorders related to marginalization, domestic violence and abuse, and overwork and stress are of growing concern, especially for women’s health.

According to statistics of  World Health Organisation:

— Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression which is  a common  mental disorder. That is 5% of the world’s population.
— 27% of the adult population (aged 18–65) had experienced at least one of a series of mental disorders in the past year. Mental and behavioural disorders are not exclusive to any special group: they are found in people of all regions, all countries and all societies.
— Mental and behavioural disorders are present at any point in time in about 10% of the adult population worldwide.
— 1  in 5 teenagers under the age of 18 years suffer from developmental, emotional or behavioural problems, 1 in 8  has a mental disorder; among disadvantaged children the rate is one in five.
— Projections estimate that by the year 2020 neuropsychiatric conditions will account for 15% of disability worldwide, with unipolar depression alone accounting for 5.7% of DALYs.
— Suicide accounts for 17.6% of all deaths among young adults aged 15-29 in high-income countries. It is ranked the 2nd leading cause of death globally and in Europe among this age group, following road traffic accidents.
— Neuropsychiatric disorders are the 3rd leading cause of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in Europe.


Mental disorders often affect, and are affected by, other diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and HIV infection/AIDS, and as such require common services and resource mobilization efforts. For example, according to World Health Organisation, there is evidence that depression predisposes people to myocardial infarction and diabetes. Many risk factors such as low socioeconomic status, alcohol use and stress are common to both mental disorders and other diseases.

Determinants of mental health and mental disorders include not only individual attributes such as the ability to manage one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviours and interactions with others, but also social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors such as national policies, social protection, living standards, working conditions, and community social supports.  

Promoting mental health and preventing mental illness, we can increase the number of people who enjoy good mental health and reduce, to the greatest extent possible, the number of people whose mental health is poor, who experience the symptoms of mental health problems or illnesses, or who die by suicide.

Enhancing factors that are known to help protect people and  having a sense of belonging, enjoying good relationships and good physical health and diminishing factors that put them at risk, such as  childhood trauma or  social isolation, we can reduce the onset of some mental health problems and illnesses, reduce symptoms and disability, and support people in their journey of recovery.

World Health Organisation’s  comprehensive Mental health action plan 2013-2020 was adopted by the 66th World Health Assembly already in 2012. 

The major objectives of the action plan are to:

— strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health.
— provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health and social care services in community-based settings.
— implement strategies for promotion and prevention in mental health.
— strengthen information systems, evidence and  research for mental health.



Mental health has been included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals



For the first time, world leaders recognized the promotion of mental health and well-being, and the prevention as health priorities within the global development agenda. The inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Agenda, which was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, is likely to have a positive impact on communities and countries where millions of people will receive much needed help.

5 things that, according to researches, can really help to boost your mental wellbeing:

— Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships.
— Be active – you don't have to go to the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
— Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence.
— Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
— Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.


Ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages is essential towards sustainable development. Addressing mental health and mental illness as everyday issues will contribute to achieving broader goals such as increasing employability, improving physical health, helping people to do better in school and reducing crime and community and personal insecurities.

Sintija Bernava
Chairwoman of the Board of Non Governmental Organisation ‘’Donum Animus’’ and Director of  Social Inclusion Education Program ‘’Life Skills Academy’’.


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