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3 Contributing Factors to Mental Illness

TOUCH Youth Intervention

3 Contributing Factors to Mental Illness

Most mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorders are caused by multiple factors. Many people recognise that genetics play a part in someone’s susceptibility to mental illness but what may the other contributing factors be?

TOUCH Youth Intervention sheds some light on this topic and shares the three factors which increase one’s susceptibility to mental illness. 

  1. Abuse & Trauma

    Abuse – physical, sexual, verbal and emotional – and neglect especially for long periods, can deeply affect someone psychologically. Hence, victims of abuse are likely to experience trauma at some point in their lives which can be deeply distressing and may change the way they perceive themselves and others. This in turn affects the way they relate with others. When left untreated, the prolonged exposure to such distress can lead to long-term effects such as anxiety, paranoia, post traumatic stress disorder, self-injury and suicide.

  2. Grief & Loss
    Life transitions such as the loss of a loved one can be difficult for many. Difficulties in adjusting to such a drastic change in life can cause distress and pain. If the grief isn’t processed adequately and closure on the matter isn’t achieved, it may leave the individual feeling disappointed and angry with life. Being in a constant state of distress can continuously decrease one’s ability to stabilise emotions and cope with stress, hence affecting one’s mental health.

  3. Dysfunctional Family / Parenting
    Dysfunctional parenting such as parents being over controlling, setting unrealistic expectations and favouring one sibling over the other can create an invalidating environment for children. This can decrease the child’s self-esteem because children form their identity through people of influence in their lives such as parents, teachers and friends. With poor self-esteem, children may easily feel overwhelmed with anxiety when faced with difficult tasks or situations. This could greatly affect their problem solving ability. When self-esteem issues and feelings of constant anxiety aren’t unresolved at the children’s developmental stage, it carries through to their adulthood, making them more emotionally vulnerable and susceptible to breakdowns. They also tend to develop a constant sense of hopelessness, despair and a negative outlook towards life.


Essentially, biological, psychological and environmental factors all play a part in the development of mental illnesses. However, as we navigate through the stresses in life, we can make a conscious effort to protect ourselves by practicing mental wellness through self-care, identifying your emotional triggers to help cope ahead of a crisis, and seeking therapy early when needed.


Do You M.I.N.D.? is a mental wellness programme by TOUCH Youth Intervention (TYI) which promotes mental wellness in youths across schools in Singapore. Through educational talks, adventure-based activities and experiential station games, youths are educated on common mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive behaviour, self-harm, and eating disorders. Youths are taught how to cope with the conditions, and how they can be a pillar of support for friends and family members with mental health issues. TYI also provides mental health counselling and therapy for youths to equip them with emotional regulation skills, increase their resilience towards distressing situations, and strengthen their socio-emotional functioning as individuals. Youths seeking help related to mental health issues may call the TOUCHline at 1800 377 2252 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm) to speak with a counsellor. You may also follow @doyoumind on Instagram for mental health updates.