Adulthood is a time for achieving productive vocations and for sustaining close relationships at home and in the community. These aspirations are readily attainable for adults who are mentally healthy and they are within reach for adults who have mental disorders, thanks to major strides in diagnosis, treatment, and service delivery.

Mental health in adulthood is characterized by the successful performance of mental function, enabling individuals to cope with adversity and to flourish in their education, vocation, and personal relationships. These are the areas of functioning most widely recognized by the mental health field.

The social consequences of serious mental disorders, family disruption, loss of employment and housing, can be devastating. Comprehensive treatment, which includes services that exist outside the formal treatment system, is crucial to ameliorate symptoms, assist recovery, and, to the extent that these efforts are successful, redress stigma. Consumer self-help programs, family self-help, advocacy, and services for housing and vocational assistance complement and supplement the formal treatment system. Many of these services are operated by consumers, that is, people who use mental health services themselves. The logic behind their leadership in delivery of these services is that consumers are thought to be capable of engaging others with mental disorders, serving as role models, and increasing the sensitivity of service systems to the needs of people with mental disorders.

Source: Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General