The relationship between physical and mental health adversely affects individuals’ quality of life as well as society as a whole. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that ‘health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’ and further emphasizes that ‘there is no health without mental health’. The well recognised inextricable links between physical and mental health explain the increased risk of developing poor mental health on top of suffering from a physical disorder, or mental disorders leading to poor physical health. The scheme in Figure 1 illustrates as an example how at every stage of a physical illness, mental health may be affected.
The overview in Figure 1 includes a number of aspects that contribute to the interplay of mental and physical health:
- considerations of mental health apply to everyone involved, including patients, carers, family and friends, clinicians;
- a number of external factors (for example, quality of communication, quality of social support, quality of insight by all stakeholders, degree of realism about expectations) play a role in determining the individual balance between physical and mental health;
- the severity of mental health problems can be widely variable and there may be repeated episodes of poor mental health;
- there are no general or straightforward ‘solutions’ to improve mental health, protecting and/or regaining good mental health is a highly individual challenge;
- oral and maxillofacial conditions and their treatments share a number of common mental-health associations with other physical conditions, but oral and maxillofacial conditions do have a particular profile of overlaps between physical and mental health.
We describe on the following pages in greater detail the diverse overlaps between oral and maxillofacial conditions and mental health as well as interventions and management of mental-health problems associated with oral and maxillofacial conditions.
Next section: Mental health