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The Role of Mental Health in World Happiness

Mental Illness As a Key Determinant of Unhappiness

Mental health or psychological well-being makes up an integral part of an individual’s capacity to lead a fulfilling life, including the ability to study, work or pursue leisure interests, and to make day-to-day personal or household decisions about educational, employment, housing or other choices. The importance of good mental health to individual functioning and well-being can be amply demonstrated by reference to values that sit at the very heart of the human condition: 

• Pleasure, happiness and life satisfaction: There is 
a long-standing and widely accepted proposition 
that happiness represents the ultimate goal in life 
and the truest measure of well-being. It is hard if 
not impossible to flourish and feel fulfilled in life 
when individuals are beset by health problems 
such as depression and anxiety. 

• Family relations, friendship and social interaction: 
Individuals’ self-identity and capacity to flourish 
are deeply influenced by their social surroundings, 
including the opportunity to form relationships 
and engage with those around them (family 
members, friends, colleagues). Difficulties in 
communication as well as loneliness and social 
isolation are well-documented concomitant 
consequences of mental illness.

• Independent thought and action: The capacity of 
individuals to manage their thoughts, feelings 
and behavior, as well as their interactions with 
others, is a pivotal element of the human 
condition. Health states or conditions that rob 
individuals of independent thought and action 
— such as acute psychosis or profound intellectual 
disability — are regarded as among the most 
severely disabling. In the most recent Global 
Burden of Disease study, for example, acute 
schizophrenia has the highest disability weight 
out of 220 health state valuations made (0.76, 
where 0 equals no disability and 1 equals 
complete disability).

It is in the interest of individuals, communities and countries to nurture and uphold these core human attributes. 

Excerpt from the United Nations 2013 World Happiness Report. More info can be found at the huffington Post site 

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