Factors that contribute to mental illness

Factors that contribute to mental illness

Mental health is the state of balance that must exist between people and the socio-cultural environment that surrounds them. It includes emotional, psychic, and social well-being and influences how a person thinks, feels, acts, and reacts in times of stress. It is the foundation for the well-being and effective functioning of a person and their community.

Mental disorders are severe conditions that can affect our thinking, mood, and behavior. The insecurity, hopelessness, rapid social change, risks of violence, problems affecting physical health, factors and personal experiences, social interaction, cultural values, and family experiences, school, and work are some of the elements that affect it.

Mental disorders are caused by multiple factors that affect the population without distinction of race, gender, or age. These usually link to genetic, psychological, neurological, environmental, or social factors, among others, for which their treatment requires a team multidisciplinary (medical, psychological, psychiatrist), whose purpose is to improve the quality of life of the person.

Although almost everyone agrees that social, psychological, and biological factors are inseparable and that all three elements are essential in mental health, there remain profound disagreements about the relevance of the factors. For some experts, Psychiatry and Neurophysiology, biological or neurological factors have precedence because they underpin all human thought, emotions, and behavior.

The impact of factors on mental health is different for everyone.

Let’s think about the differences between people: the variance in technical language. Different types of variables are quantified in different ways. Perhaps we can think of a simple distinction between people who have experienced certain traumatic life events and between people with or without a particular genetic abnormality. That could allow us to compare the relative impact of factors on mental health. 

However, other important factors are measured. Differently, poverty or social deprivation tends to be seen as a continuum, and many biological factors, the functioning of neurotransmitters, for example, as well.

It becomes even more difficult when we add the role of psychology in it. Traumatic life events, of course, have an impact on our mental health, but not everyone who has suffered such traumatic events will suffer to the same extent. Some people are more resistant than others. Some of that resilience may come from biological differences, but it may also reflect our learning and our education. 

Our likelihood of responding to a stressful life event, such as a contemplative style or a tendency to self-blame, is, in part, a consequence of our education and the happenings we got to see in our lives.

Not all those who have suffered such traumatic events will suffer to the same measure. The point is that all of these factors are vital to our mental health because they are all intimately associated with thoughts, behavior, and emotions. 

We respond to events in our lives, by the value and meaning we give them, and our brains are the organs that do this work. 

Perhaps the best way to approach the “cause” of mental health is to ask ourselves if the differences between people in terms of mental health are better explained by the differences in the events we experience, by the different ways in which we value and respond to these events, by differences in our education and our learning throughout life, or by differences in the neurological functioning of the brain.

Common causes of mental health problems

Not all of us who have to deal with the problems listed below will have mental health problems. Instead, it will develop when the pressures are more significant than our ability to deal with them. Also, not all mental problems have causes that can be identified. Sometimes it is not possible to know the reason why a person develops a mental health problem.  Some of the causes that affect our mental health are:

The pressures of everyday life.

Activities and events in daily life often put us under stress that causes us physical and mental stress. Stress can be due to physical problems, such as illness or overwork. It can also be due to what happens to us emotionally, such as having family conflicts. Even events that generally cause joy (such as the birth of a new baby or getting a job) can be stressful as they are life-changing.

Losses and death.

When we lose something or someone we value – a loved one, our job, our home, or a very close friend – we may feel overwhelmed by grief. It can also happen if we become ill or develop a physical disability.

Grief is a natural reaction that helps us adjust to loss and death. However, if we suffer from several losses at the same time, or if we suffer from a lot of pressure in our daily lives, we may begin to develop mental health problems.


When something frightful happens to one of our loved ones or us, we can suffer trauma. Some of the furthermost common causes of trauma are domestic violencerape, war, torture, and natural disasters.

A trauma threatens our physical or mental well-being. As a result of this, we feel in danger, insecure, powerless, and unable to trust the world or the people around us. It mostly takes a long time to recover from trauma, especially if someone else caused it, not nature. 

Traumas that we may have suffered as children before we were able to understand what was happening to us or talking about it can affect us for many years without our knowing it.

Physical problems.

Some mental health problems are due to physical problems, such as:

  • Hormones and other changes in the body.
  • Infections, such as HIV.
  • Pesticides, herbicides, and industrial chemicals.
  • Liver or kidney disease.
  • The excess of medicines, or the side effects of some drugs.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Strokes, dementia, and head injuries.

One must consider the possibility of a physical cause when treating mental health problems. Let’s also remember that physical issues can be a sign of a mental health problem.

Changes in life and the municipal.

In many regions of the world, authorities force communities to change too quickly. Whether due to economic reasons or political conflict. Many of these modifications require families and communities to alter the way they live completely. For example, when families and communities fall apart, or when life changes so much that the normal ways of dealing with complications no longer work, people can start to suffer from mental problems.

In conclusion, regarding biological determinism, explanations are not in themselves very good at explaining very complex behaviors, and they fall short when explaining differences between people. 

It is true that our behavior is the product of the functioning of our mind and that every action and thought we have, involves our brain. A biological model is difficult to disprove, but it doesn’t add much.

As for social determinism, we are immersed in a society that supports and shapes us. In part, we act as we do because of the social situations in which we find ourselves—our behavior forms as a result of the reinforcement contingencies to which we are exposed. As we go through life, we all face situations and opportunities that shape us, shape our behaviors.

Biological determinism, explanations are not in themselves very good at explaining very complex behaviors.

What can we do to have good mental health?

Here are a few examples: self-esteem, effective communication, stress management, recognition of your emotions, having a good social network, etc. The important thing when we are suffering from some mental illness is to have the right tools.

We are, at least in part, the product of rewards and punishments that we have received through life. And the behavioral difference will depend on these patterns of reinforcements and punishments during our lives. 

However, these explanations are also insufficient. While it is true that different experiences in life can lead to various emotional outcomes, it is also true that we respond to these similar life situations differently. And it is that people differ in the way in which we make sense of these events.

We are more than mere biological machines or clay molded by social and circumstantial pressures. We are more than the product of our genes and the inevitable consequences of reinforcement. 

This simple way of thinking about human behavior has significant implications. All of us want to be happier, healthier, have more rewarding lives. Yes, in the words of the European Commission, we are to realize our intellectual and emotional potential and to find and fulfill our roles in social situations, school, and working life, we have to understand how we make sense of the world. 

We may need to evaluate and reconsider that framework of understanding. Fortunately, although not easy in many cases, it is possible to learn to look at the world differently.

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