Collective Mental Wellness

Collective Mental Wellness in the context of a Mentally Healthy Campus and a Mentally Healthy Community.

The definition of positive mental health/ mental wellness described in the [Foundations] brief helps to illuminate that mental wellness is a characteristic of a collective, not just an individual. So we can consider what constitutes mental wellness of a family, community, society as well as places such as a campus, a school, or a workplace.  Having significant differences between some groups in a community, society or campus is not a sign of mental wellness of that collective. The social norms that make up a culture are an important characteristic and strategies such as social justice, advocating for policy changes that reduce or eliminate the structural factors that keep those differences beyond the capacity of an individual to influence are important to the mental wellness of both individuals and the collective.

A healthy place, such as a community, workplace or campus, as described by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is one that:

“continuously creates and improves both its physical and social environments, helping people to support one another in aspects of daily life and to develop to their fullest potential. Healthy places are those designed and built to improve the quality of life for all people who live, work, worship, learn, and play within their borders — where every person is free to make choices amid a variety of healthy, available, accessible, and affordable options.” 

Another resource is the Health Promoting Universities and Colleges. It recognizes a ‘whole system’ approach such as the Mentally Healthy Campus approach, though broadened to include physical dimensions of wellness.

“Health promoting universities and colleges transform the health and sustainability of our current and future societies, strengthen communities and contribute to the well-being of people, places and the planet. Health promoting universities and colleges infuse health into everyday operations, business practices and academic mandates. By doing so, health promoting universities and colleges enhance the success of our institutions; create campus cultures of compassion, well-being, equity and social justice; improve the health of the people who live, learn, work, play and love on our campuses; and strengthen the ecological, social and economic sustainability of our communities and wider society.”

The 2015 International Conference produced the Okanagan Charter, setting out a set of interdependent strategies.

What is a Mentally Healthy Campus? provides more information.