Protective and risk factors for mental health

Learn about the factors that can help protect your mental health. Also find out about the factors that can put it at risk.

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What can help protect your mental health?

Regardless of your age, you can have better mental health if you:

  • eat a healthy diet, which supports a healthy body and brain
  • are physically active, which reduces stress and helps with concentration
  • get enough sleep, which makes you more alert and able to cope with stress

Certain life circumstances can also help protect your mental health. These include:

  • living in a safe community that is accepting, supportive and free of violence
  • having healthy and supportive relationships, which help you form meaningful connections
  • living in housing that is clean and well maintained
  • getting an education
  • having a steady job

What can put your mental health at risk?

Negative life circumstances can put you at risk of developing mental illness. Situations that can affect mental health include:

  • poverty
  • family conflict or violence
  • neglect in early childhood
  • having a parent with a substance abuse problem
  • living in inadequate or unsafe housing

Learning ways to cope with these circumstances can help your overall mental health.

How can you develop coping skills for mental health?

Focused counselling programs, classes or training teach coping skills to handle different life circumstances. These skills can help you to deal with problems or transitions that come up in life, such as:

Learning coping skills early in life can help protect your mental health from childhood into adulthood.

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