Mental health and wellbeing definitions 


The following definitions are used in the Scottish Government Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy.

The strategy outlines a vision of a Scotland, free from stigma and inequality, where everyone fulfils their right to achieve the best mental health and wellbeing possible. That means that the strategy is for everyone.


Mental Health

Mental health is a part of our overall health, alongside our physical health. It is what we experience every day, and like physical health, it ebbs and flows daily. Good mental health means we can realise our full potential and feel safe and secure. It also means we thrive in everyday life.

Mental Wellbeing

Mental wellbeing is our internal positive view that we are coping well psychologically with the everyday stresses of life and can work productively and fruitfully. We feel happy and live our lives the way we choose.

Mental Illness

Mental illness is a health condition that affects emotions, thinking and behaviour, which substantially interferes with or limits our life. If left untreated, mental illnesses can significantly impact daily living, including our ability to work, care for family, and relate and interact with others. Mental illness is a term used to cover several conditions (e.g. depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia) with different symptoms and impacts for varying lengths of time for each person. Mental illnesses can range from mild through to severe illnesses that can be lifelong.

Mental wellbeing, mental health and mental illness are linked to a combination of factors covering biology (e.g. genetics, health and neurodiversity), psychology (e.g. thoughts, emotions and beliefs) and social factors (e.g. culture, poverty and discrimination). These three areas combine with a person’s life experiences to impact our state of mind. This impact varies over time, does not progress in a straight line and is specific to an individual.

Wider Wellbeing Workforce

The Scottish Government recognise the important role of the wider wellbeing workforce – the wider public, third, and independent sectors – in its Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy 2023. This workforce includes (but is not limited to) employers; health, social work and social care staff; community link workers; police

officers; community group leaders; school staff; youth workers; volunteers and unpaid carers. So really, anyone who is coming into contact with the general public on a regular basis.

Although not directly employed in providing mental health services, this group play an important role in supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing and can also help promote good mental health for all. Find out how you can help.

Wider mental wellbeing workforce

The wider mental wellbeing workforce includes wider public, third, and independent sectors which, although not directly employed in providing mental health services, support and treatment, play an important role in supporting someone’s mental health and wellbeing and can also play a significant role in promoting good mental health for all. Examples include, but are not limited to, employers; health, social work and social care staff; community link workers; police officers; community group leaders; faith leaders; school staff and youth workers. 

Core mental health and wellbeing workforce

The core mental health and wellbeing workforce consists primarily of those who provide frontline mental health services and treatments across a range of age groups and various sectors. These are staff who are specifically employed in services within statutory organisations, the independent sector or the third sector to support mental health and wellbeing.  


How you can help  

Mental health and wellbeing conditions and pathways in West Lothian  

Being trauma informed 

Factors which affect our mental health and wellbeing 

How to support good wellbeing


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