There has been little progress in reducing the burden of mental illness around the world, prompting calls for improved access to quality mental health care and for programs to prevent mental disorders and promote mental health. The distinction between mental disorder and mental health is a fundamental underlying element of this call for improvement, but this important distinction is often misunderstood.
Mental illness and mental health are traditionally conceptualised as opposite ends of the same continuum, and modern mental health care systems are designed to reduce mental illness to concurrently improve mental health. It has been argued that health care systems designed this way risk providing ‘reactive’ health care and creating avoidance, fear, and stigma of the pathology. However, the complete state model of mental health suggests that positive mental health and mental illness are distinct, yet interrelated, constructs that reflect separate continua.
A systematic scoping review was performed to amalgamate and synthesise the research on the complete state model. By transforming our understanding of the relationship between positive mental health and mental illness, the complete state model could underpin significant mental health reform in the future and contribute towards reducing the burden of mental illness.