Mental Health 101
Risk factors and causes of mental health problems
There is no single cause for most mental health problems. In fact, the causes are varied and complex. They result from interactions between biology, genetics, family and social environments and economic factors (MHCC, 2009). There are relationships between a person’s mental health, past traumas, biology/physical health and social environment (i.e., the social determinants of health, which will be explained later in the tutorial).
Click each cause below to learn more.
Traumatic experiences can be any negative experience that deeply affects a person. They are unsettling and impact a person’s ability to adapt to the normal stresses of life. Traumatic experiences could include being in a car accident, witnessing terrible events, being abused or living through a natural disaster or a war. Trauma, especially in childhood, causes health disparities. It is a root cause of adult disease and high-risk behaviours. Trauma is more likely to affect the most vulnerable people and populations (Kimberg, 2016).
It is important to recognize the possibility that anyone could have past trauma (Kimberg, 2016). In fact, for clients in a clinical practice or service, the rates of trauma can be as high as 80 to 90 per cent (Saunders & Adams, 2014).
If someone is experiencing mental health problems, it is important to examine their physical health as well. The brain and the body are connected. There are many physical conditions that can affect a person’s mental health. For instance, depression is both a cause and an effect of physical illness. People with depression are two times more likely to have a stroke and 1.5 times more likely to develop cancer. On the other hand, 17 to 27 per cent of people with heart disease and 22 to 29 per cent of people with cancer develop depression (MDSC, 2013).