Critical Perspectives in
Psychiatry and Mental Health:

A self-paced eLearning Workshop

Disclaimer: This eLearning Workshop website has been developed as part of a Master's course project on Health Professional Education. The designer is not a Psychiatrist nor a Mental Health professional. Therefore, the content of this site is for demonstration purposes only and should not be used in a clinical setting without professional input regarding its safety and appropriateness. The designer assumes no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for the content.

Public Mental Health and Positive Psychology

Although Community Mental Health services are common within a mental health/illness framework, services directed at Public Mental Health, which include mental health promotion and illness prevention, are still in their infancy. The Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology recognized this deficiency and dedicated an entire chapter to this topic. In it, they made the following recommendations:
  • That mental health be included as an immediate priority health issue in the Integrated Pan-Canadian Healthy Living Strategy.
  • That the Public Health Agency of Canada, in collaboration with other stakeholders, prepare a Mental Health Guide for Canadians and ensure its broad distribution.
  • That the federal government commit sufficient resources to enable the Public Health Agency of Canada to take the lead role in identifying national priorities for interventions in the areas of mental health promotion and mental illness prevention and to work, in collaboration with other stakeholders, toward translating these priorities into action.

    That all mental health promotion and mental illness prevention initiatives contain provisions for monitoring and evaluating their impact.

    That the Knowledge Exchange Centre (see Chapter 16) work closely with existing bodies such as the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to collect and disseminate data on evaluations of mental health promotion and mental illness prevention interventions, including campaigns to prevent suicide.

    That, in this context, the Canadian Mental Health Commission (see Chapter 16) explore the possibility of:
    1. developing common measures to evaluate mental health promotion and mental illness prevention interventions;
    2. analyzing federal policy initiatives for their probable mental health impact;
    3. identifying clusters of problems and/or at-risk populations that are not currently being addressed.
  • That the federal government support the efforts of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention and other organizations working to develop a national suicide prevention strategy.

    That the Canadian Mental Health Commission (see Chapter 16) work closely with all stakeholders to, among other things:
    1. develop consistent standards and protocols for collecting information on suicide deaths, non-fatal attempts and ideation;
    2. increase the study and reporting of risk factors, warning signs and protective factors for individuals, families, communities and society;
    3. support the development of a national suicide research agenda along the lines proposed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Another related concept is that of Positive Psychology, which is defined as "scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive". The University of Pennsylvania has an extensive Positive Psychology Center that encompasses research, education and the dissemination of the concept. Positive Psychology is indeed a form of Public Mental Health, but it goes far beyond just mental health and into community development in general. Some of the center's stated goals include:

  • Families and schools that allow children to flourish
  • Workplaces that foster satisfaction and high productivity
  • Communities that encourage civic engagement
  • Therapists who identify and nurture their patients' strengths
  • The teaching of Positive Psychology
  • Dissemination of Positive Psychology interventions in organizations & communities


2007, Alex Drossos. Prepared for the OISE/UT course, TPS1820: The Healing Teacher