Mental Health Risk Factors in the Workplace & Protective Factors

Mental health issues are complex and can significantly impact the workplace. While workplace wellness programs can support overall mental health, there usually isn’t a single cause or risk factor associated with developing mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and other disorders. The human body is a complex organism, and the brain is the most complex of all the body’s organs. When mental health issues crop up, several risk factors likely come into play. In this article, we’re going to discuss four areas that influence mental health and their risk and protective factors. For example, there are biological factors to mental health. A biological risk factor for mental health is poor nutrition, while a protective factor biologically for mental health is a healthy diet. This article will explore social, biological, psychological, and spiritual factors for mental health. 

Social Risk Factors and Protective Factors

Social factors for mental health have to do with our relationships, especially our childhood and family relationships. Class and economic factors are also considered social factors. 

Here are some of the social mental health risk factors.

  • Abuse or neglect in childhood.
  • Currently being in an abusive relationship or friendship.
  • Only having a few friends or lacking healthy relationships.
  • Recently experiencing a loss such as a death or a divorce.
  • Experiencing bullying, either as the victim or the perpetrator.
  • Living in poverty or growing up in poverty.
  • Having poor communication or social skills. 
  • Experiencing discrimination based on race, class, gender, or sexual orientation.
  • Lacking access to support or support services.

Protective social factors for mental health.

  • Able to make friends and get along with people.
  • Has good relationships with their peers.
  • Healthy and supportive relationship with their family.
  • Social activity in sports teams, clubs, neighborhoods, communities, or churches. 
  • Financially secure or in a good economic position. 
  • Can access support and support services.

Biological Risk Factors and Protective Factors

There is an undeniable biological factor to mental health. This category includes current and past health issues, including birth trauma. Here are some biological risk factors for mental health.

  • Comes from a family with a history of mental health issues.
  • Had complications during their pregnancy or birth.
  • Previous history of a traumatic brain injury.
  • Has chronic medical conditions such as:
    1. Diabetes
    2. Cancer
    3. Hypothyroidism
    4. Brain-related illnesses like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s
  • Using alcohol or drugs.
  • Lack of good nutrition.
  • Lack of sleep. 

Here are some biological protective factors for mental health.

  1. Experienced secure attachment as a child.
  2. No family history of mental health issues.
  3. Eats healthy, nutritious food.
  4. Exercises regularly.
  5. Had normal development. 

Psychological Risk Factors and Protective Factors

Psychological factors have to do with our minds and emotions. Traumas are considered psychological risk factors, while positive self-esteem is a protective psychological factor. 

Here are some psychological risk factors for mental health.

  • Experiencing highly stressful life problems like financial instability or legal problems.
  • Past experiences of trauma, such as a soldier who saw active duty.
  • Has low self-esteem.
  • Feels incompetent.
  • Has an overall negative view of life. 
  • Poor performance in school. 

Here are some psychological protective factors for mental health.

  • Experiencing both steady support and constructive discipline from caregivers as a child. 
  • Able to follow the rules at home, work, and school.
  • Ability to emotionally self-regulate.
  • Has good coping skills.
  • Able to solve problems.
  • Has a subjective sense of self-reliance.
  • Feels optimistic.
  • Has a positive sense of self-esteem.

Spiritual Risk Factors and Protective Factors

While not everyone is religious, everyone has deeply held beliefs about themselves and the world. Here are some spiritual risk factors for mental health.

  • Perceiving oneself as being inherently wrong, flawed, broken, or needing to be saved. Feeling beyond repair at a core level.
  • Having the self-perception of insignificance.
  • Experiencing cognitive dissonance or doubts about profound religious beliefs. E.g., a gay person raised to believe god hates them.

Here are some spiritual protective factors for mental health.

  • Being future-orientated.
  • Being motivated by achievement.
  • Having a core set of moral and ethical beliefs. 

Support Mental Health in the Workplace with BioFunctional Health Solutions (BHS)

BHS has been supporting mental health in the workplace for over a decade. We are experts in workplace wellness and have worked with organizations big and small to enhance employee mental health. With education and wellness challenges, we can help your employees reduce mental health risk factors and encourage a happy, productive working environment. When you support overall wellness in the workplace, your employees’ health improves, and office morale increases. Our experience allows us to customize wellness challenges to meet and engage your workforce. Increase wellness, job satisfaction, and productivity with a customized wellness program from BHS. Reach out to us today with any questions or to get started.

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