Mental health refers to the capacity in an individual to function effectively in society. Mental health is highly variable in definition, depending on time and place.

The components can broadly be said to include:

1. the ability to empathise with others

2. the ability to develop socially, emotionally and intellectually

3. the ability to learn from periods of emotional difficulty and distress, and to develop because of them

4. the ability to initiate and sustain mutually satisfying relationships

Mental health problems are difficulties which arise in these areas, and are likely to have their roots in environmental, constitutional or social factors , or a combination of these. Mental health problems in children are common and are likely to affect over 1 in 5 of children or young people at some stage, and 1 in 4 adults. Mental disorders are less common, and are likely to affect less than 1 child in 10.

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