Approximately one in eight individuals worldwide grapple with a mental disorder, says a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2022.
Our mental health, to a large extent, defines the quality of the life we lead. Impaired mental health often results in a challenging life. Conversely, a troubled life can contribute to poor mental health. For someone facing mental health challenges, comprehending the underlying factors contributing to their specific struggles can be tricky but necessary.
From early life experiences and major life events to genetics, there is a plethora of biological, psychological, and social factors affecting mental health of an individual. While some of these factors are comparatively easier to address, as it is within our control to affect them, there are those that are beyond our control and thus harder to manage.
Psychological Factors Affecting Mental Health
- Early Life Experiences: The events and upbringing a person experiences during their formative years and teenage years are among the most defining factors for their mental health. For instance, a person who grew up in a traumatic environment is more likely to develop mental health disorders than a person who grew up in a healthy environment.
- Coping Mechanisms: To manage stressors, adversity, and the challenges of daily life, every individual has a unique approach, which is called a coping mechanism. Their coping strategies or approaches play a significant role in determining their mental health well-being.
- Cognitive Patterns: A person’s thought processes and mental frameworks that shape how they perceive people and situations, make decisions, and respond to various stimuli are called cognitive patterns. They exert a major impact on one’s day-to-day well-being and are one of the major factors affecting mental health.
- Emotional Resilience: An individual’s resilience is their ability to make a comeback from adversities and adaptability to change. The level of emotional resilience a person possesses is directly proportional to their likelihood of maintaining stable mental health.
Biological Factors of Mental Health
- Genetic Predispositions: Our mental health is shaped by both biology and family history throughout our lives. Individuals with mental disorders in their close family are at risk of developing similar conditions due to inherited traits.
- Hormonal Fluctuations: A person undergoes various types of hormonal changes and imbalances during different stages of life, which have direct effect on their personality traits, general mood, and stress responses.
- Neurochemical Imbalances: Neurochemicals are the chemicals in the brain responsible for influencing a person’s mood, emotions, and behaviour. Their disruptions impact mood, cognitive function, and emotional well-being and contribute to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
- Brain Structure and Function: A human brain has different regions that are responsible for various functions. Alterations in these structures, whether due to prolonged stress or other factors, can influence behaviour, emotions, and cognitive processes in a person.
Social Factors Affecting Mental Health
- Emotional Support System: Having a support system in the form of caring and loving friends, family, and a partner plays a major role in a person’s mental well-being. The absence of emotional support often leads to or aggravates mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
- External Stressors: External or environmental stressors can have an impact on one’s mental health and lead to an altered quality of life. These factors include work-related stress and one’s living conditions, which can create additional burdens and contribute to existing mental health struggles.
- Socioeconomic Status: The socioeconomic status of a person has a major influence on their quality of life as well as their accessibility to mental health resources. Individuals in lower socioeconomic groups often experience increased stress due to financial instability, limited access to healthcare and education, and a higher likelihood of living in disadvantaged environments.
Mental health challenges can stem from various factors, making it important for us to care for our mental well-being just like we would for any physical ailment. To lead a healthy and joyous life, you must ensure to keep your brain healthy. So, it is critical to recognize signs and seek help promptly.
If you or someone you know is facing mental health issues, reaching out to specialists for guidance and support is the first step on your path to emotional well-being.