Positive Mental Attitudes (PMA) is a mental health inequalities initiative that has operated for over ten years in East Glasgow, the United Kingdom's highest concentrated area of socio-economic deprivation. The programme began as a grassroots initiative by a service user forum in the local community and has since developed a broad coalition of community support with mainstream funding and over fifty partners from a range of sectors. The work has built capacity within local community groups and agencies to deliver a wide range of community development (CD) initiatives with tens of thousands of people, which have also informed both national strategies and international programmes. We assess the programme in the context of wider theory and policy debates and explore the processes and tensions that exist within this sphere of work. We examine evaluation debates and what counts as success in the complex and contested area of mental health and CD. We call for a new public health movement, prioritizing health equity over health gain and driven by CD principles, and argue that the evidence from PMA can provide evidence-based pointers of what this should involve.
- mental health
- mental attitudes
- mental health inequalities
- community development initiatives
- social change