You may think your mental health is created by genetics.
You may also think events you experience in your life contribute to your mental health. You are right. Genetics play a key role in whether a person develops a mental health disorder. The experiences, negative and positive, you encounter throughout your life also play a role in your mental health.
The causes do not stop there, however.
There are numerous environmental factors contributing to your mental health.
Let’s take a look.
Where You Live
Poor housing accommodations can lead to poor mental health. If your home is in a neighborhood that is run down and dirty, this can lead to mental health issues. It can be disheartening to constantly be in an environment that is not cared for. If your home itself needs serious repairs, it can cause you to feel depressed and anxious, especially if finances are limited and you cannot make repairs.
There may also be health hazards such as mold, bug infestations, lack of security, and high crime rates that increase your risk for developing a mental health disorder. These are negative aspects of your environment that add to the list of obstacles you must overcome. Many times, you may be at the mercy of a landlord who does not think your problems are as bad as you do, leaving you to reside in an unsafe and unhealthy living environment for an extended period, increasing negative emotions.
Poor living conditions lead to depression and hostility can arise among residents. Anxiety and increased stress levels have also been found among those who live in housing surrounded by vandalism and crime. You want to wake up, leave your home, go to work and feel safety for yourself and your belongings while you are away. This is not the case in many neighborhoods that are considered low-income or that have an association with gang related activity. These have a direct correlation with depression among residents.
What You Do for Work
The environment of your job plays a role in your mental health. Working for a boss that is never happy can be a drag. It can lead to depression and anxiety. In fact, you begin to dread even going to work when you have a supervisor or even co-workers with poor attitudes. Their attitudes start changing your attitude and each day becomes a difficult chore.
Work is supposed to be a place that provides you an outlet for your creativity, your talents and the education you obtained. Sometimes work environments do just the opposite and even allow discrimination or harassment. These violations add even more stress to your already stressful job.
A poor work environment affects both your physical and mental health. You may find you miss work more often, visit your family doctor more for unexplained illnesses and even start to feel burned out. Finding a career that allows a healthy balance between work and personal life is key to limiting mental health disorders in your life.
Who You Hang Out With
Your social life, your personal relationships, have a significant impact on your mental health. If you are involved in negative relationships, you have a higher likelihood of developing a mental illness. Negative relationships include those where you are being verbally or physically abused. Negative relationships can also include friends that put a lot of pressure on you to participate in negative activities like drugs and alcohol.
Having too many social commitments can be a hindrance to your mental health. A healthy social life allows you to have time for yourself, time for your career, time for your family, and time for your friends. If your social life is consuming most of your time, you may be at risk for developing anxiety or depression. You may even get to a point where you want to isolate and withdraw from society to avoid the pressures.
It is also important to monitor the amount of time you spend on social media, which can lead to negative emotions. Envy, anger, and bitterness are some of these emotions that can develop by viewing the posts and pictures of acquaintances online. Even though many of their posts are not completely accurate, it makes you feel like you are not living up to your potential. Furthermore, spending too much time on social media can lead to addiction, making it even harder to quit later.
It has been well documented that when you have access to resources, you live a healthier life, both mentally and physically. Resources such as education, medical treatment, mental health treatment, grocery stores, jobs, transportation and recreational activities are all important aspects of living a healthy life.
Medical and mental health treatments should be located nearby your living environment. If you must travel many miles, using multiple transportation sources just to receive proper care, this can become overwhelming and depressing. It may even lead to you foregoing much-needed care and mental health conditions can worsen.
Having access to grocery stores gives you the opportunity to eat healthily. A good diet has been shown in multiple studies to contribute to positive mental health.
Recreational activities that allow for fun ways to get exercise are key to a healthy environment. If you do not have access to any type of fitness activities, you may be prone to obesity, which is a known culprit of many mental health disabilities. Access to walking trails, basketball courts, and even fitness centers like the YMCA make positive mental health a reality.
These are just a few of the environmental elements that can contribute to mental health. Without these and others, you may feel stuck in a situation without the hope of something better. You are not stuck, however. Begin improving your environment one step at a time. Pick the area that needs the most change and start there. Ask for help from the community. If your neighborhood needs cleaning and safety, start a group that can do those tasks. Find a way to improve your environment so that you can lead the mentally healthy lifestyle you deserve!