Centre on Well-being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE)


How to Make Societies Thrive? Coordinating Approaches to Promote Well-being and Mental Health

Good mental health is a vital part of people’s well-being. This report uses the OECD Well-being Framework to systematically review how people’s economic, social, relational, civic and environmental experiences shape and are, in turn, shaped by their mental health. Based on this evidence, examples of co-benefits, or policy interventions that can jointly improve both mental health and other well-being outcomes, are identified for a range of government departments. Implementing and sustaining such co-benefits requires resources, incentives and working arrangements that enable all relevant stakeholders to contribute to tackling the upstream determinants of mental health. Selected mental health initiatives across OECD countries are reviewed to illustrate how policy makers have been realigning action across government agencies; redesigning policy formulation to address the joint factors influencing mental health; refocusing efforts towards the promotion of positive mental health; and reconnecting with societal stakeholders beyond government, including those with lived experience, youth, civil society and research institutions. How to Make Societies Thrive? Coordinating Approaches to Promote Well-being and Mental Health is the second of two reports as part of a broader OECD project on mental health and well-being.

Published on October 17, 2023


Reader’s guide
Executive summary
Applying a well-being lens to mental health
Risk and resilience factors for mental health and well-being: Material conditions
Risk and resilience factors for mental health and well-being: Quality of life
Risk and resilience factors for mental health and well-being: Community relations
Realigning, redesigning, refocusing and reconnecting for better outcomes: Practical lessons
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Key facts on mental health and well-being

Mental health is shaped by many aspects of life

People experiencing mental distress, and those with low levels of positive mental health, fare worse across all dimensions of well-being, from material deprivation to lower quality of life and worse inter-personal and communal outcomes.

Countries can deliver mental health and well-being co-benefits

Examples include increased access to social assistance programmes; encouraging employers to prioritise mental health; incorporating social and emotional learning in curricula; expanding social prescribing programmes; making social connectedness a policy target; and accounting for the mental health costs of climate change.

Policies require collaboration across stakeholders

Lessons from mental health initiatives in select OECD countries show the importance of clearly defining mental health goals; allocating time and resources for partnership building across agencies, levels of government and civil society; strategic grantmaking to fund non-health activities; and provisions for programme evaluation.