What causes mental health problems?
Mental health problems can have a wide range of causes. It’s likely that for many people there is a complicated combination of factors – although different people may be more deeply affected by certain things than others.
For example, the following factors could potentially result in a period of poor mental health:
- Childhood abuse or trauma
- Social isolation or loneliness
- Experiencing discrimination including racism
- Social disadvantage, poverty, or debt
- Losing someone close to you
- Severe or long-term stress
- Having a long-term physical health condition
- Unemployment or losing your job
- Homelessness or poor housing
- Being a long-term career for someone
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Domestic violence, bullying, or other abuse as an adult
Physical causes, for example, a head injury or a neurological condition such as epilepsy can have an impact on your behavior and mood.
It’s important to rule out potential physical causes before seeking further treatment for a mental health problem
Most mental disorders are moderate or common disorders
Severe mental disorders are relatively rare. Most mental disorders are mild or moderate, frequently referred to as common mental disorders (CMD). Mood disorders (depression), neurotic disorders (anxiety), and substance-use disorders are by far the most frequent CMDs. However, any of these illnesses can evolve to become so severe that they would be classified as severe mental disorders (SMD). Typically, three-quarters of those affected by the mental disorder have a CMD and one-quarter an SMD. The main difference is that CMD is generally less disabling and, thus, less of a problem for the individual concerned and society at large. However, some symptoms of CMD can affect work-related functionality considerably. One of the main challenges for policymakers is therefore to prevent mental health problems at a sub-clinical level from developing into chronic and disabling CMD.
Health Systems And Social Support
Health systems have not yet adequately responded to the needs of people with mental disorders and are significantly under-resourced. The gap between the need for treatment and its provision is wide all over the world; and is often poor in quality when delivered. For example, only 29% of people with psychosis and only one-third of people with depression receive formal mental health care.
People with mental disorders also require social support, including support in developing and maintaining personal, family, and social relationships. People with mental disorders may also need support for educational programs, employment, housing, and participation in other meaningful activities.