Bringing the Foundational Elements of Mental Health Promotion to Life

Concepts, principles and frameworks are the building blocks for shared understanding, collective action and creating system change. In the field of mental health promotion, these elements provide a solid foundation for work in policy, research, and implementation. Frameworks help us bridge gaps between research and practice, ground us in common theories and language, and allow us to understand how our work fits into the larger system of mental health promotion.

Despite their value in enhancing the effectiveness of interventions1, theoretical concepts and frameworks can seem abstract, full of technical jargon, and difficult to understand. Unsurprisingly, many formal health promotion initiatives and projects outside of the field of public health don’t utilize these key frameworks to support their work.2,3

The KDE Hub’s new tool, Mental Health Promotion Concepts and Principles, compliments a recent webinar and provides a succinct and plain-language overview of several key concepts for mental health promotion. These include:

  • Mental health promotion vs. mental illness prevention
  • A population approach to mental health
  • The dual continua model of mental health
  • The World Health Organization’s Ottawa Charter

The tool also strives to enhance understanding of the Ottawa Charter‘s five key action areas by demonstrating how projects funded through the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Supporting the Mental Health of those Most Affected by COVID-19 initiative and the Mental health Promotion Innovation Fund are using each action area in their work. Examples include how the Alexandra Community Health Centre is reorienting health services by offering comprehensive supports to individuals experiencing health and social disparities, and how the Community-Based Research Centre is strengthening community action by empowering members from the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to lead research and intervention development.

We hope that this tool supports the use of foundational concepts and frameworks in mental health promotion projects and activities. Access the KDE Hub’s new Mental Health Promotion Concepts and Principles tool here.



  1. Jackson S., Perkins F., Khandor E., Cordwell L., Harman S., Busasai S. (2006) Integrated health promotion strategies: a contribution to tacking current and future challenges. Health Promotion International, 21(S1), 75–83.
  2. Hancock T. (2011a) The Ottawa Charter at 25. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 102, 404–406.
  3. Potvin L., Gendron S., Bilodeau A., Chabot P. (2005) Integrating social theory into public health practice. American Journal of Public Health, 95, 591–595.