Mental Illness: Causes And Prevention

Mental illness has always been a multifactorial disorder. This means that no singular cause or factor can lead one to develop psychological disturbance. To date, there is no specific cause for why such conditions persist and continue to compromise one’s healthy living. It is an assurance that continued studies are being done to examine and investigate this purpose. This article will discuss the already known causes of mental illness and ways to prevent it. There are also readings in


To understand the causes of mental illness thoroughly, we shall present it into three general categories: (1) Biological, (2) Environmental, and (3) Psychological.



Biological Factors


According to Christina L. Gmyr, LMHC, NCC, “Mental health issues can be caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors, and can have a minor or major impact on a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors.” The brain is a delicate organ with many critical functions. Alterations in the brain chemicals, brain structure, and neural pathways are considered to cause cognitive impairments and mental illness. For example, dopamine, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter, is increased in schizophrenia and manic phase of bipolar disorder. Whereas serotonin supplies are low in persons with anxiety, depression, panic attacks and insomnia. In an imaging study, persons with schizophrenia have a less gray matter in the brain. Grey matter is the part of the brain that has nerve cells and mostly concern with the higher functions of the brain.


What causes the brain to malfunction in such way can be related to the following factors:


Heredity. There is a high probability that mental illness is linked to genetics. Several studies have established that family members with a history of mental illness are more likely to pass this condition to the next generations due to genome type specific to cause schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and other psychiatric illnesses.


Brain infection. Any microorganism that enters the brain and damages its capacity to function can later lead to alterations in cognitive, intellectual, and perceptual performance.


Prenatal factors. Autism is believed to be an outcome of oxygen deprivation to the brain during delivery. Other prenatal factors include abnormalities of fetal brain development secondary to poor nutrition of the mother and maternal exposure to toxic substances such as lead.



Environmental Factors


Environmental factors can be considered as trigger elements that make the person susceptible to develop mental illness especially if the individual has poor coping skills. Examples of are death or losing someone, divorce, and separation, getting fired from the job, relocation, adhering to social and cultural expectations, dysfunctional family lives, and substance abuse from peer influence.



Psychological Factors

These factors are related to situations that can alter or damage one’s self-concept. Examples are traumatic events, abuse and violence, neglect, and inability to connect to others.



Prevention of Mental Illness


Mental illness can be prevented. Many strategies will help the person develop adaptive coping mechanisms, effective problem-solving skills, and activities to make oneself pre-occupied from succumbing to psychological ailments. The following are some brief examples:

  • Get medical attention as soon as known pregnant. Prenatal health is of utmost importance to the development of the fetus. This includes the brain and other vital organs.
  • Eat nutritious food. A well-balanced diet comprised of foods rich in vitamins and minerals allows prevention of illnesses. A healthy body also brings a healthy mind. “Eating healthfully, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep are all important elements in a mentally and physically healthy life.” Staci Lee Schnell, MS, CS, LMFT also added.
  • Practice Self-Awareness and Mindfulness. Being self-aware also means that you accept and acknowledge your weaknesses and strengths.
  • Socialize with the right circle of friends. Being in the right company will not only ensure that you are not lured to illicit activities but also will be instruments to achieving your full potentials.
  • Jennifer Bradley, Psy.D., HSPP, Clinical Psychologist said, “I believe that human beings have an inherent longing and need for wholeness and balance, which is our natural state of being.” Therefore, one must engage in Work-Life Balance Activities. All work and no play can be a stagnant way of living. One should learn how to stop, pause, and breath to prevent exhaustion.