NHS Health Scotland
Outcome Indicators

1.9 The interplay between physical health and mental health is complex and two way: physical health impacts on mental health, and mental health has an impact on both physical health, and health behaviour.


Healthy lifestyle behaviours can increase physical health and reduce physical ill health which in turn will contribute to improved mental health outcomes through increased psychological, social or emotional functioning and, mental health can influence health behaviours such as drinking, smoking, uptake of physical activity.[1]

Physical ill health can have a direct impact on mental health and may result from, for example, difficulties living with/coping with illness, effects on relationships and ability to socialise.[2] Equally it is argued that mental health can have an impact on physical health due to psychological, physiological or social factors.[3]


  1. Herman H, Saxena S, Moodie R & Walker L (2005). Promoting mental health as a public health priority. In H Herrman, S Saxena & R Moodie (Eds). Promoting mental health: Concepts, emerging evidence and practice. WHO: Geneva.

  2. Parkinson J (2007). Establishing a core set of national, sustainable mental health indicators for adults in Scotland: Final report. NHS Health Scotland: Glasgow.

  3. Scottish Government (2009). Annual report of the Chief Medical Officer: Health in Scotland 2008 – Shedding light on hidden epidemics. Scottish Government: Edinburgh.