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What is Mental Wellbeing?

Mental wellbeing is the positive aspect of mental health. It is more than the absence of disease. People with mental wellbeing feel good and function well. Some people call this positive mental health, others call it flourishing. Mental health is influenced both by external circumstances and by how we respond to them. People who function well respond to challenging external circumstances in a way that is resilient and enables rapid recovery. External circumstances change all the time, so mental wellbeing fluctuates from time to time.

Mental health has a powerful influence on physical health, on learning, on productivity and on the quality of interpersonal relationships. So promoting mental wellbeing is important for public health, education, the economy and society.

Programmes to promote mental wellbeing aim to increase the number of people who feel mentally well and the amount of time they feel like this. They require both support and help for those who are ill or at risk of mental illness and programmes which aim to shift the curve so that the average mental health of the population is improved.

Theoretical distributions of mental health in normal populations


The black line represents a theoretical cut-point for psychiatric illness.

For a more detailed overview of different perspectives on mental wellbeing and the place of (S)WEMWBS in the wider discourse see Conceptual Framework and Disciplinary Perspectives