Mental health refers to cognitive and/or emotional well‐being. More concretely, it refers to how a person thinks, feels and behaves. Mental health can affect daily life, relationships, the ability to enjoy life and even physical health. Mental health involves finding a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve resilience. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) [1], mental health is ‘a state of well‐being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’. More concrete mental health includes different components of life; for example, in terms of relationships, having a good relationship with family and having supportive friends, with the ability to talk about feelings. For leisure time it is about having hobbies, doing exercises on regular basis and having regular holidays. Furthermore, it is important to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes, having healthy eating habits, not smoking or drinking and not taking no‐prescribed drugs and at least being able to achieve some goals in life [2]. Mental health is not merely the absence of a mental disorder. It exists on a continuum to include flourishing mental health, very good mental health, mean mental health, decreased mental health, mental health problems and mental health disorders

Life Skills Coaching:


  • Relationship Problems & Challenges
  • Depression, Anxiety & Stress Related Issues
  • Chronic Pain & Illness
  • Weight Loss & Weight Management
  • Anger Management
  • Fear & Phobias
  • Mental Side of Performance (Study, Work & Sports)

Mental health problems and disorders

It is important to distinguish between mental health problems and mental health disorders. A mental health problem is a negative mental experience that is part of everyday life and interferes with emotional and/or social abilities. These problems are less severe than those associated with a mental health disorder. As previously mentioned, persons with mental disorders have a growing imbalance in their abilities. A mental disorder is defined as a syndrome characterized by a clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation or behavior. It reflects a common or severe dysfunction in the psychological, biological or developmental process underlying mental functioning.

Common and severe mental health disorders

Common mental health disorders

Common disorders refer to obsessive‐compulsive and related disorders, trauma and stressor‐related disorders, dissociative disorders, somatic symptom and related disorders, eating disorders, disruptive, impulse‐control and conduct disorders, substance‐related and addictive disorders and neurocognitive disorders

Severe mental health disorders: 

Severe mental disorders include schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, mood disorders.

One out of four persons might face a mental health disorder at a certain point in their life. Depression, anxiety, post‐traumatic stress disorder and other problems can be triggered by personal and lifestyle pressures such as bereavement, relationship breakdown or job loss. Drug or alcohol dependency, illness or long‐term physical disability can cause depression. This mental health disorder is the fourth most significant cause of disability worldwide.

Mental health problems/disorders often begin with the thoughts and beliefs related to a (physical or mental) problem. These thoughts and beliefs are the source of emotions and feelings that act as a driver of actions/behaviours. Behaviours are a choice and have consequences at some point.

Mental health and physiotherapy

The importance of the implementation of physiotherapy in both common and severe mental health disorders and psychiatry is underestimated, even if there is a tradition of more than 50 years in some countries (Belgium, Scandinavia, etc.), even if the attention to ‘the moving body’ increases in society and even if the moving body is an important issue that is integral to psychopathology. To overcome this problem, physiotherapists who were working in mental health and psychiatry applied in 2011 for recognition as a subgroup within the World Confederation of Physical Therapy.

The main goal of this subgroup is to bring the different physiotherapy interventions in mental health and psychiatry together to clarify the role of physiotherapy in this field. For that reason, the International Organization of Physical Therapy in Mental Health (IOPTMH) adapted the recommendations of the WHO concerning mental health care using physiotherapy language.

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