Time to read: 8 minutes
What is prevention in mental health?
Before we start, I want to define two terms that are often confused in this space: Prevention and Promotion. Often used interchangeably, there is technically a difference between the two
- Prevention in mental health happens before the clinical onset of a disorder or illness. It aims to prevent the development of the disorder, reduces risk factors and enhances protective factors
- Promotion in mental health, refers to intervening to optimise mental wellness. It does this by addressing elements of mental health that support mental wellness and resilience before the clinical onset of an illness has been identified. The goal of promotion in mental health is to improve positive mental health in the population.
Clear as mud, right? In this article, we will focus on prevention in mental health as that is where Mindspace specialises. By the end of this article, you will be familiar with not just what preventative mental health care is, but how to achieve it for yourself.
Preventative mental health care has largely taken a back seat over the decades. Our current mental health medical system gears towards treatment and a small amount of funding goes towards early intervention. This essentially means as a society, we are waiting for people to get unwell before we help them. Research on mental wellness has always been around. We know the basics: eat well, good quality sleep, and exercise often. However, the more time goes on, the more we learn, and it is becoming increasingly clear that there are steps we can take to actually stop mental illness from occurring in the first place. Pretty ground-breaking right? With the increasing overwhelm of the medical system post-COVID, this has never been more welcomed.
There is no single answer to what mental health prevention looks like, as it is a myriad of things that keep our brain and body well and strengthen us against hardship and challenges. Ultimately, though, the goal is always the same: to prevent mental disorders from developing in the first place.
Mental health prevention strategies
So, you might be wondering after all that, can you prevent mental illness? It turns out you can.
The model we work from is evidence-based and has identified the six domains of resilience. If you don’t vibe with the word resilience, that is fine, replace it with mental wellness or mental strength. Whatever term you use, science has found a recipe to prevent mental health disorders. It has been shown as you strengthen these areas, your resilience score increases, negative symptoms decline, quality of life improves and the chances of developing a mental illness decrease, read more here. While it is not a fool-proof method or fix-all cure, (sorry, there is still no cure for mental illness), it is the closest we have ever been to even considering how to end mental illness in society, and it shows real results.
Mental illness prevention is ultimately an empowering form of mental strengthening, designed to create and maintain healthy lives and give people the best chance of fighting off and avoiding mental illness. Prevention puts the power is put back into the hands of the person. More cost-effective than paying for a psychologist once unwell, this brain-training is able to be done from the comfort of your own home.
Don’t get it twisted
We are not against treatment for mental illness – we are actually all for it. The ideal scenario, however, is if you don’t need treatment in the first place. A part of preventative training includes recognising when things are beyond the point of mental strengthening and intervention may be needed. This is where the treatment system comes in. The great news is though, it’s been shown that the more you have worked on prevention before reaching the treatment stage, the better the treatment outcomes. This is likely due to several reasons
- Through prevention training you’re able to recognise decline sooner
- The sooner people get mental health intervention, the quicker the recovery
- You’ll be more in touch with yourself, what is your normal and what are external factors
- Able to spot risk factors either pre-emptively or very early on
- Awareness through training as to what help is available
- Breaking down stigma and barriers to accessing help
- Better support networks to facilitate treatment outcomes
As a society, we are already doing the steps, just not putting it all together
Meditation, breathing exercises, nutrition, networking, mindfulness, quality sleep, and problem-solving. These are all terms you are familiar with. We often dabble with these ideas, prioritising different activities here and there when necessary. The problem is, if we are using them when necessary, it is already too late. Along with this, using these skills in isolation does help to a degree, but not to the level of prevention if we were to put them all together.
Why is mental health prevention important?
Preventative approaches to mental health allow people to actively break the cycle and make a change, empowering people to take charge of their own wellness. No longer at the mercy of waitlists and financial means, people are now able to feel confident in the fact they have prepared themselves adequately for the stressors of life. We likely don’t have to tell you why we should prevent mental illness, however, here are some benefits anyway:
- Protect yourself against mental illness
- Reduce current mental illness symptoms
- Improved physical health and less physical illness
- Increased happiness and confidence
- Increase your window of tolerance and coping skills
- Less emotional reaction to stress
- Better parenting and BONUS: skills are also able to be passed onto kids for their own mental resilience
- Self-motivated and driven, no need to try 5 different professionals to find the right fit
- Catching mental illness symptoms early, before they become a diagnosable condition (and giving you the tools to deal with this)
- Improved relationships
- Better insight into self and others
- Increased compassion
- Clearer goals and prioritisation
- Take your mental health prevention knowledge out into the community and promote the skills in others
So, how do I prevent mental illness?
This brings us to the how-to of mental illness prevention, resilience, mental strength, again, whatever phrase you want to use. There is no doubt that we will face challenges in life, what varies is how we handle them and how much they set us back.
We have done all the hard work for you. No more researching or podcasts, no more self-help books and Instagram coaches. The neuroscience team at Driven have built a resilience-building, brain-training, mental-strengthening app that is your one-stop shop for stopping mental illness. Many apps focus on one part of the picture, such as breathing or meditation. We have put it all into one to save time, money, and to increase the likelihood of the skills actually being used.
Neuroscience-based, the app will tailor a program for you based on your resilience test results. You will also get a comprehensive report of your scores. Increase your coping skills, reduce your stress and protect yourself against mental illness. We want to do these things before things get bad for two reasons
- If we wait until things are bad, it is easy to get stuck in an endless cycle of living from crisis to crisis and never truly strengthening against these challenges
- Doing the training before a hurdle reduces the stress and impact, so once world-ending situations are now a bump in the road, allowing you to continue growing and strengthening with minimal disruption
We have made it as easy as possible while still seeing results. 5 minutes a day is the commitment, no subscription is required, no lock-in contracts for the app, just wellness at your fingertips. You will learn and practice all the habits of resilience and will have access to a re-assessment of your score at any time to see how you’re improving. On average, participants see a 52% increase in resilience score after 180 days. Read more here.
Mindspace Training’s app ‘Driven’ is available worldwide, making it accessible, affordable and achievable. Get 10% off when signing up to our newsletter.
Mental strengthening and illness prevention is the future of mental health and will (hopefully) become the focus of more media discussion and government funding in the coming years. The ability to feel confident that no matter what life throws at you and that you will be okay is a gift not many people are blessed with naturally, however, anyone can have it. It is not an easy road by any means, but what are you willing to invest in your mental wellness?