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In the Buddhist sense, meditation and mental development are the same. The Pāli term bhāvanā, which often translates to "meditation", really means both, meditation and development of the mind. The term "mental development" is to be understood in this context on this web site.
The goal of mental development is to see things as they are, which is achieved by training the ability of mind to be both tranquil and aware (mindful). Meditation is most of all a process of abandoning an imagined reality and learning to understand and listen to the own body and mind. Because body/mind is the interface to the rest of the world, this understanding will then extend to the part of the world that is commonly perceived as "external".
The ability to perceive reality as it is is often referred to as paññā (understanding or wisdom).
To get started with meditation, have a look at the Meditation FAQ.
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