Everyone has some risk of developing a mental health disorder, no matter their age, sex, income, or ethnicity. In the U.S. and much of the developed world, mental disorders are one of the leading causes of disability. Social and financial circumstances, biological factors, and lifestyle choices can all shape a person’s mental health.


A large proportion of people with a mental health disorder have more than one condition at a time.

It is important to note that good mental health depends on a delicate balance of factors and that several elements of life and the world at large can work together to contribute to disorders.


The following factors may contribute to mental health disruptions.


Continuous social and economic pressure

Having limited financial means or belonging to a marginalized or persecuted ethnic group can increase the risk of mental health disorders.

2015 study of 903 families in Iran identified several socioeconomic causes of mental health conditions, including poverty and living on the outskirts of a large city.

The researchers also explained the difference in the availability and quality of mental health treatment for certain groups in terms of modifiable factors, which can change over time, and non modifiable factors, which are permanent.


Modifiable factors for mental health disorders include:

  • Socioeconomic conditions, such whether work is available in the local area
  • Occupation
  • A person’s level of social involvement
  • Education
  • Housing quality

Non modifiable factors include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Ethnicity


The study lists gender as both a modifiable and non modifiable factor. The researchers found that being female increased the risk of low mental health status by 3.96 times.

People with a “weak economic status” also scored highest for mental health conditions in this study.


Biological factors

The NIMH suggest that genetic family history can increase the likelihood of mental health conditions, as certain genes and gene variants put a person at higher risk. However, many other factors contribute to the development of these disorders. Having a gene with links to a mental health disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia, does not guarantee that a condition will develop. Likewise, people without related genes or a family history of mental illness can still have mental health issues.


Mental health conditions such as stress, depression, and anxiety may develop due to underlying, life-changing physical health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, and chronic pain.