Mental health conditions are not inevitable.
Whether or not an individual experiences a mental health condition depends on the interaction between various biological, psychological and social risk and protective factors that combine to either increase or reduce a person’s chances of becoming unwell.
Some of these risk and protective factors are unique to each individual, while other factors in our social environments, impact us all.
- Individual factors include our: genetic make-up; birthweight; gender; age; personality characteristics; social and emotional skills; and behaviours such as diet, exercise, sleep and smoking, alcohol and substance use.
- Social environment factors include: our parenting and family environment; adverse childhood experiences such as abuse or neglect; exposure to violence, racism or discrimination; stressful life events; the nature of our school, work and community environment; our access to education, employment, income, housing and other material basics; and the nature of our broader economic, political and cultural environment.
The key to promoting mental wellbeing and preventing mental health conditions is to increase protective factors like resilience and decrease risk factors in our personal lives and social environments.
There are steps that everyone can take to protect and enhance their own mental wellbeing, but there are also some things that require us all to work together to achieve as a community. We therefore believe that promoting mental wellbeing and preventing mental health conditions requires individual and collective action and it won’t be possible if we just focus on one or the other.