Mental health promotion targets the whole population and focuses on enabling and achieving positive mental health. This multidisciplinary area of practice aims to enhance well-being and quality of life for individuals, communities and society in general. Mental health promotion conceptualises mental health in positive rather than in negative terms and delivers effective programmes designed to reduce health inequalities in an empowering, collaborative and participatory manner. Mental health promotion endorses a competence enhancement perspective and seeks to address the broader determinants of mental health. This is in keeping with the fundamental principles
of health promotion as articulated in the Ottawa Charter (WHO, 1986). There is a growing theoretical base and accumulating body of evidence to inform the development of mental health promotion practice (Barry, 2001, 2002; WHO 2004a; WHO 2004b; Jané-Llopis and Anderson, in press). Evidence from systematic reviews of mental health promotion and preventive interventions shows long-lasting positive effects on multiple areas of functioning, leading to outcomes such as improving mental health (Durlak and Wells, 1997; WHO, 2004a), reducing risks of mental disorders (Mrazek and Haggerty, 1994; Jané-Llopis et al., 2003; WHO 2004b) and producing social and economic benefits (Hosman and Jané-Llopis, 1999).