Mental health indicators generally used in public health are derived from mortality statistics, but they do not reflect the impact that disability due to mental disorders has on population health. The present study proposes a global indicator of population mental health which combines both mortality and morbidity data. The data used were the results of a Health Interview Survey, including the 12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire, mortality life-tables for the general population, and data from a two-step epidemiological study used to assign the probability of case status. The results are calculated for the Catalonia region in north-east Spain. Life expectancy and mental health expectancies at all ages were found to be higher for women than for men. Men were found to have a higher total life expectancy in good mental health. The feasibility and potential areas of application of this generic mental health index are discussed.