It is normal after a diagnosis, or during times of difficulty, for people to seek information on what causes or contributes to mental health issues. There is no one answer. Research is ongoing and there is still much that is unknown. However, our understanding of what causes mental health issues has an impact on what treatments and supports a person and their family and friends will receive. It is widely thought that a combination of the factors described below are important in understanding the causes of metal health issues.

Some common perspectives

Trauma: experiences such as distress, extreme sadness or hearing voices are a normal response to experiencing a harmful event. This is trauma as perceived by the person and not anyone else’s view of what is and is not traumatic. This is important, as what is a traumatic experience for one person may not be the same for another. Some common examples of harmful or traumatic events include abuse, loss, forced migration, bullying or rejection. Treatment and support may include trauma counselling and peer support.

Biological or medical: mental health issues are linked to genetic or biological differences, for example chemical imbalances in the brain. A person can be considered at risk of developing mental health issues as a result of these biological differences. Treatment and support are varied and may include medication, talking therapies and occasionally electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Biopsychosocial: the experiences relate to three interconnected influences, the biological (body/brain), the psychological (thoughts and feelings) and the social (what has happened in the world). A combination of events in these three areas impacts on the development of mental health issues. Treatment and support may involve medication, therapy, psychosocial support, community support, peer support and education. 

Spiritual or cultural: the experiences are seen in a spiritual or cultural context. For example, it may be seen as desirable to hear the voices of ancestors or have contact with the spiritual world. Treatment and support may be minimal or may be a spiritual or cultural response, such as a healing ritual.

A number of perspectives may influence someone’s understanding of the causes and contributing factors of mental health issues. It can be helpful to learn more about these different perspectives and consider your own unique experience and view.

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For more information, please contact Wellways on 1300 111 400.