Mental Health Promotion: A Lifespan Approach

Mental Health Promotion: A Lifespan Approach

Mental Health Promotion: A Lifespan Approach

Mental Health Promotion: A Lifespan Approach


"This is a well-organised book. The layout is clear, with references at the end of each chapter, and there are activities and questions for reflection, as well as good use of tables. The editors' foreword at the beginning of each chapter provides a useful link from the previous material, and gives a sense of continuity.
"It will be a useful addition to a reading list for public health students and anyone interested in promoting mental health in their clients. It will provide a useful platform for debate, and a summary of mental health needs at different points in the life span."

Critical Public Health

"This text provides an excellent overview for anyone new to mental health promotion or wanting to refresh their learning.
...the book provides a concise argument that mental health promotion has a strong theory base, evidence base and value base for anyone wishing to learn, advocate for or develop its practice."

mentalhealth today

This book is a useful overview for mental health promotion and will stimulate practitioners and researchers to delve more into this important topic"
The Internet Journal of Mental Health

Mental Health Promotion is the first textbook to provide an accessible guide to applied mental health promotion across all age groups, and demonstrates how both principles and theory can be used to underpin mental health promotion. Cross cutting themes at each stage of the lifespan are addressed, including: reduction of inequalities; theory and evidence based practice and culturally sensitive approaches to practice.

Key features of the book include:

  • A recognition of the 'uniqueness' of different age groups in terms of specific mental health issues
  • A lifespan approach; identifying different health promotion interventions for different age groups
  • Illustrations of how to apply health promotion theory and principles to practice
  • Inclusion of up to date evidence based examples of good practice for different age groups
  • Use of international, national and local examples
Mental Health Promotion is essential reading for those working in or studying public health, mental health promotion, social work, nursing, youth and community or community care.


The idea for Mental Health Promotion: A Lifespan Approach came about as a result of a lively discussion with a group of students studying mental health promotion as part of their Masters in public health and health promotion course. In several sessions we had explored the philosophy and theory of mental health and mental health promotion, differing perspectives on mental health and mental health promotion, the evidence base and mental health promotion policy into practice, when one of the students exclaimed: ‘Yes, but what I really want to know is how do I relate all this to my own practice. In other words, how can I become a good mental health promoter?’ The result was a session where we considered the population groups the students in their professional capacity worked with in relation to what had been covered in the previous sessions. The chart we drew on the white board was entitled ‘Life stages and mental health promotion practice’, and was adapted from a set of tables on risk and protective factors from the ‘old’ National electronic Library for Health website (National electronic Library for Health 2003). It became clear that to be able to promote mental health and well-being effectively students needed something they could relate to in their working lives. As most of them worked with specific population groups rather than generically or in settings the lifespan approach appealed to them because they could apply it directly to their practice. Since that session we have refined our mental health promotion module to fit more directly with this approach, which has been a great success with the students. It has occasionally been suggested to us that a ‘settings approach’ might be more appropriate for addressing mental health promotion. However, we have found that although settings can be useful for providing a ‘stage’ for activities and interventions the lifespan approach (despite some overlap) provides a cross-cutting framework enabling students to consider the relationship between the wider determinants of mental health and different age groups. This also helps students to identify meaningful priorities when developing mental health promotion activities. As our students come from a very wide range of disciplines and backgrounds it would seem that a lifespan approach isn't just useful for those ‘doing mental health promotion’, but also for those who want to have a better understanding of how their work fits in with mental health promotion.

Mima Cattan and Sylvia Tilford


National electronic Library for Health (2003) Mental health promotion: risk and protective factors, Mental Health. London: NHS National electronic Library for Health. Available at (accessed 27 October 2005).

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