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Examples of interventions

Interventions to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental illness

These pages aim to provide pointers to evidence-based interventions to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental illness. The website will continually be developed, so more materials will be added here – this is just a beginning to help get you started. Please also see the resources section for further information.

Targeted or universal?

When deciding what interventions to pursue, the question often arises: should we focus on targeted or universal interventions? Research often shows that the prevention of mental illness is achieved more effectively when programmes aim to promote mental wellbeing at population level. And as unhealthy lifestyles, chronic illness and social inequality are underpinned in some ways by psychological distress, the universal promotion of mental wellbeing can address all of these public health agendas.

For example, suboptimal parenting that is less damaging than abuse or neglect is distributed across the social spectrum. Targeting, though attractive, can be inefficient because identification of high risk groups is not easy and can increase stigma. Current policy recommends universal underpinning and targeted provision, where appropriate, for identifiable high-risk groups.

Both targeted and universal approaches are included in these pages.

Effective implementation

Bear in mind when considering interventions that successful implementation can depend on following closely the approaches as developed, researched, evaluated and refined.

Starting well

For discussion of the issues involved, please see the Good Start in Life pages, including the pages on parenting programmes, school mental health promotion and policy context, where specific interventions are discussed.

Developing well

Interventions to support children and young people, many of them in school settings.

Living well

  • New Economics Foundation (NEF) Five Ways to Wellbeing

NEF was commissioned by the government's Foresight project to develop a set of evidence-based actions to improve personal wellbeing: Five Ways to Wellbeing: the Evidence

The results of a scoping exercise to see how the Five Ways are being used outlines arguments for a population-wide approach to mental health promotion and provides more detail about the Foresight report and development of the Five Ways to Wellbeing.

Working well

Ageing well

The wider context

This section is under development – future information will include topics such as increasing access to green spaces, improving the built environment and asset based approaches to community development.


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