5. Positive mental health relates to everyone (the 5 in 5)

It’s common to hear references to the “1 in 5” who’ll be experiencing mental illness or addictions in their lives, or at any particular time. This statistic doesn’t capture the reality that we are all impacted one way or another – either because those 20% are family members, school, work or professional colleagues, or members of a close cultural or faith community.

In addition, the pursuit of positive mental health is relevant for anyone – with or without a mental illness, disorder or addiction.

The graphic below is a different way to illustrate the proportion of the population with mental health, mental illness and addictions. Treatment, ongoing support and prevention services are critical to this population, although recovery-oriented services will help them to have an improved quality of life. The graphic reflects the importance of also considering the 5 in 5 in comprehensive strategies. This proportion of the population may not reach the criteria for a diagnosable illness, but do have challenges, concerns about their ability to cope. This results in them experiencing various degrees of vulnerability in the short term or, if the situations persist, over the long term (illustrated in the graphic by the curved dotted lines in the upper right section of the diagram). Although falling in the ‘normal’ range, these people benefit from supports that assist them in developing good stress relief and stress management skills, positive psychology exercises, and/or capacity building skills (i.e. health promotion strategies).

So integrated health promotion and health-enabling environments strategies must be relevant to all students, their families, and the faculty and staff of mentally healthy campuses and communities. This means incorporating strategies appropriately for people needing treatment and support for illness, disorders and addictions (which will also need to be trauma-informed services) , as well as recovery-oriented services that support people treated for mental illnesses to regain their quality of life. Health promoting strategies are important for all, and need to be designed appropriately for the variation among people.