NJCMO Newsletter


One of the most important mental health determinants is genetics. Studies from the National Institutes of Health have shown that mental illness can run in families, which suggests that there is a genetic component to many youth mental disorders. If you have a family member with a mental disorder, you may be more likely to develop one yourself. 

However, it’s important to remember that even if you have a family history of mental illness, it doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop a mental disorder. There are many other factors that contribute to mental health, and not everyone with a family history of mental illness will develop one themselves.


Another important determinant of mental health is biology. Certain medical conditions and medications can affect mental health. For example, someone with a thyroid condition may experience mood swings, and someone taking steroids may become more aggressive. 

Certain medical conditions can also increase the risk of developing a mental disorder. For example, people with chronic pain are at an increased risk for developing depression. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has done extensive research on this topic which you can read more about here.

Social Environment

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), social determinants of mental health refer to the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and how these conditions influence their mental health. Poverty, unemployment, unstable housing, and exposure to violence or crime are examples of social determinants that can adversely impact mental health. The APA notes that stress is a significant factor when it comes to the relationship between social determinants and mental health, and that chronic stress can contribute to the development of mental health disorders in youth.

The APA also states that discrimination and marginalization such as racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination can also affect mental health. These experiences can lead to feelings of isolation, low self-esteem, and anxiety.

Substance Use

Additionally, substance use in youth is a growing concern. The use of drugs or alcohol can have significant effects on brain development, leading to long-term consequences such as addiction and mental health disorders. Youth who use substances may also experience other social determinants of mental health, such as poverty, lack of education, and limited access to healthcare. Substance use can also contribute to risky behavior, which can negatively impact academic performance and future opportunities. Therefore, addressing substance use in youth is critical for improving overall mental health outcomes and promoting healthy development. Providing support and resources to help prevent substance use and promote healthy coping skills can make a significant difference in the lives of young people and their mental health.

These are just a few of the many mental health determinants. It’s important to remember that there is not one single cause of mental illness. Mental disorders are complex, and there are a variety of factors that can contribute to their development.

Lifestyle Choices

Lifestyle choices can significantly impact mental health determinants in youth. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and insufficient sleep can all contribute to increased risk for mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Additionally, high levels of stress from academic or social pressure, lack of social support, and inadequate coping mechanisms can also have detrimental effects on mental health. On the other hand, healthy lifestyle choices such as regular exercise, balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, and engaging in fulfilling social activities can promote positive mental health outcomes and help prevent the onset of mental health disorders. It is crucial for parents, caregivers, teachers, and other adults in youths’ lives to prioritize and encourage healthy lifestyle habits to support their overall well-being.

If you are concerned about your mental health, contact your local care management organization to get help. They can help you understand the factors that may be affecting your child’s mental well-being and can provide you with resources and support. Taking care of a youth’s mental health is essential for living a happy and healthy life.


How can you prevent or reduce the impact of mental health determinants on your life?

There are many ways that you can prevent or reduce the impact of mental health determinants on your life. These include:

-Identifying and Avoiding Triggers: Many people with mental health conditions have triggers that can worsen their condition. These triggers can be avoided by being aware of them and taking steps to avoid them.

-Staying Connected: It is important to stay connected with loved ones, professionals, and supportive others. This keeps you from feeling isolated and alone, which can worsen mental health symptoms.

-Exercising Regularly: Exercise has been shown to be helpful for relieving stress and improving mood. It is important to find an exercise routine that works for you and to stick with it.

-Eating a Healthy Diet: Eating a healthy diet helps to improve mood and energy levels. It is important to eat a variety of healthy foods and to avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and excessive amounts of caffeine.

-Getting Enough Sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for good mental health. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

What are some protective factors for mental health?

Some protective factors for mental health include: having a strong network of supportive friends and family, being resilient in the face of stress, engaging in meaningful activities, having a positive outlook on life, and being mindful and self-compassionate.

Each of these factors can help buffer against stressful life events and improve overall mental well-being. Friends and family can provide love and support during tough times; resilience allows people to bounce back from setbacks; meaningful activities give people a sense of purpose in life; a positive outlook fosters happiness and optimism; mindfulness allows people to be present in the moment instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future; and self-compassion allows people to be kind and understanding towards themselves even during difficult times.

What are some risk factors for mental health?

There are a variety of risk factors that can contribute to poor mental health. Some of the most common include:

-Family history of mental illness (Source: NAMI)
-History of traumatic experiences, such as abuse or neglect (source: APA)
Substance use or addiction (source: NIDA)
Physical health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer
-Poor social support networks
-Having few meaningful life goals or sense of purpose
-Low self-esteem or negative body image
-Poor coping skills

What kind of help is available to those affected by mental health determinants?

There are many care management organizations (CMOs) that offer help to those affected by mental health determinants. These organizations use a Wraparound model of care, which means they provide comprehensive care and support to meet the individual needs of each person. 

Once a youth has an established relationship with a CMO, the services offered by CMOs it can help connect you to therapists, substances use treatment and peer support. If you are concerned about your mental health, contact your local CMO to get help today.

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