“A state of well-being that enables each person to recognize his or her own abilities, to achieve self-fulfilment, to overcome the normal stresses of life, to perform productive and fruitful work and to contribute to the life of his or her community.”

According to the World Health Organisation’s definition, good mental health is not simply the absence of disease… From “mere” reactive psychological distress to severe psychiatric disorders, mental health encompasses an extremely varied range of disorders, which may or may not be defined as diseases.
Mental pathologies are commonly considered to be characterised by altered thinking, mood or behaviour. These disabilities result in psychological, physical and social problems causing distress and suffering. Almost the entire population may be affected, either directly or indirectly, during their lifetime. These disabling symptoms, grouped into syndromes or disorders, are a source of suffering for families and for society as a whole.

In order to establish a common nomenclature, essential for the exchange of information and execution of research, that different classifications exist and are continuously developing. The two standard references at the international level are the WHO’s ICD-10 and the DMS V – produced by the American Psychiatric Association, used primarily for clinical research. Both of these classifications favour a categorical approach (lists of diseases) which may not always be satisfactory because of the overlapping and crosscutting characteristics of mental disorders, some of which have  highlighted with recent advances in research (for example genetic vulnerabilities common to several disorders).

Current emerging research data points towards the construction of new diagnostic systems that tend to break free from these categories. Even if it is too early to design a classification based solely on molecular, neurophysiological, or cognitive biomarkers, research is beginning to initiate a real paradigm shift in the field of mental illness classification.

We now know that discoveries about a particular pathology can be used to find treatments for other disorders. It is this exciting reality that leads us to believe that research, even if it focusses on serious pathologies, will also make it possible to advance knowledge on less severe disorders.

The results obtained from neuroimaging, genetics, immunology, neurophysiology and the cognitive and social sciences all contribute to this reformulation of the mental illness classification system.
The scientific programme of Fondation FondaMental Suisse this revolutionary view, and allows great hope for the future.

Treatments will be more personalised thanks to research. It is this change of viewpoint, a new model of psychiatric research, that Fondation FondaMental Suisse is helping to implement.