Mental Health A-Z Why Is Mental Health Important? By Elizabeth Plumptre Elizabeth Plumptre LinkedIn Elizabeth is a freelance health and wellness writer. She helps brands craft factual, yet relatable content that resonates with diverse audiences. Learn about our editorial process Published on November 15, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Akeem Marsh, MD Medically reviewed by Akeem Marsh, MD LinkedIn Twitter Akeem Marsh, MD, is a board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist who has dedicated his career to working with medically underserved communities. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Westend61 / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Risk Factors for Poor Mental Health Signs of Mental Health Problems Benefits of Good Mental Health How to Maintain Mental Health and Well-Being Your mental health is an important part of your well-being. This aspect of your welfare determines how you’re able to operate psychologically, emotionally, and socially among others. Considering how much of a role your mental health plays in each aspect of your life, it's important to guard and improve psychological wellness using appropriate measures. Because different circumstances can affect your mental health, we’ll be highlighting risk factors and signs that may indicate mental distress. But most importantly, we’ll dive into all of the benefits of having your mental health in its best shape. Risk Factors for Poor Mental Health Mental health is described as a state of well-being where a person is able to cope with the normal stresses of life. This state permits productive work output and allows for meaningful contributions to society. However, different circumstances exist that may affect the ability to handle life’s curveballs. These factors may also disrupt daily activities, and the capacity to manage these changes. The following factors, listed below, may affect mental well-being and could increase the risk of developing psychological disorders. Childhood Abuse When a child is subjected to physical assault, sexual violence, emotional abuse, or neglect while growing up, it can lead to severe mental and emotional distress. Abuse increases the risk of developing mental disorders like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or personality disorders. Children who have been abused may eventually deal with alcohol and substance use issues. But beyond mental health challenges, child abuse may also lead to medical complications such as diabetes, stroke, and other forms of heart disease. The Environment A strong contributor to mental well-being is the state of a person’s usual environment. Adverse environmental circumstances can cause negative effects on psychological wellness. For instance, weather conditions may influence an increase in suicide cases. Likewise, experiencing natural disasters firsthand can increase the chances of developing PTSD. In certain cases, air pollution may produce negative effects on depression symptoms. In contrast, living in a positive social environment can provide protection against mental challenges. Biology Your biological makeup could determine the state of your well-being. A number of mental health disorders have been found to run in families and may be passed down to members. These include conditions such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. Lifestyle Your lifestyle can also impact your mental health. Smoking, a poor diet, alcohol consumption, substance use, and risky sexual behavior may cause psychological harm. These behaviors have been linked to depression. Signs of Mental Health Problems When mental health is compromised, it isn’t always apparent to the individual or those around them. However, there are certain warning signs to look out for, that may signify negative changes for the well-being. These include: A switch in eating habits, whether over or undereating A noticeable reduction in energy levels Being more reclusive and shying away from others Feeling persistent despair Indulging in alcohol, tobacco, or other substances more than usual Experiencing unexplained confusion, anger, guilt, or worry Severe mood swings Picking fights with family and friends Hearing voices with no identifiable source Thinking of self-harm or causing harm to others Being unable to perform daily tasks with ease Do You Know the Signs of Clinical Depression? Benefits of Good Mental Health Whether young or old, the importance of mental health for total well-being cannot be overstated. When psychological wellness is affected, it can cause negative behaviors that may not only affect personal health but can also compromise relationships with others. Below are some of the benefits of good mental health. A Stronger Ability to Cope With Life’s Stressors When mental and emotional states are at peak levels, the challenges of life can be easier to overcome. Where alcohol/drugs, isolation, tantrums, or fighting may have been adopted to manage relationship disputes, financial woes, work challenges, and other life issues—a stable mental state can encourage healthier coping mechanisms. A Positive Self-Image Mental health greatly correlates with personal feelings about oneself. Overall mental wellness plays a part in your self-esteem. Confidence can often be a good indicator of a healthy mental state. A person whose mental health is flourishing is more likely to focus on the good in themselves. They will hone in on these qualities, and will generally have ambitions that strive for a healthy, happy life. Healthier Relationships If your mental health is in good standing, you might be more capable of providing your friends and family with quality time, affection, and support. When you're not in emotional distress, it can be easier to show up and support the people you care about. Better Productivity Dealing with depression or other mental health disorders can impact your productivity levels. If you feel mentally strong, it's more likely that you will be able to work more efficiently and provide higher quality work. Higher Quality of Life When mental well-being thrives, your quality of life may improve. This can give room for greater participation in community building. For example, you may begin volunteering in soup kitchens, at food drives, shelters, etc. You might also pick up new hobbies, and make new acquaintances, and travel to new cities. How to Maintain Mental Health and Well-Being Because mental health is so important to general wellness, it’s important that you take care of your mental health. To keep mental health in shape, a few introductions to and changes to lifestyle practices may be required. These include: Taking up regular exercise Prioritizing rest and sleep on a daily basis Trying meditation Learning coping skills for life challenges Keeping in touch with loved ones Maintaining a positive outlook on life Another proven way to improve and maintain mental well-being is through the guidance of a professional. Talk therapy can teach you healthier ways to interact with others and coping mechanisms to try during difficult times. Therapy can also help you address some of your own negative behaviors and provide you with the tools to make some changes in your own life. The Basic Methods of Therapy A Word From Verywell Your mental health state can have a profound impact on all areas of your life. If you're finding it difficult to address mental health concerns on your own, don't hesitate to seek help from a licensed therapist. 8 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. World Health Organization. Mental Health: Strengthening our Response. Lippard ETC, Nemeroff CB. The Devastating Clinical Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect: Increased Disease Vulnerability and Poor Treatment Response in Mood Disorders. Am J Psychiatry. 2020;177(1):20-36. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.19010020 Helbich M. Mental Health and Environmental Exposures: An Editorial. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(10):2207. Published 2018 Oct 10. doi:10.3390/ijerph15102207 Helbich M. Mental Health and Environmental Exposures: An Editorial. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(10):2207. Published 2018 Oct 10. doi:10.3390/ijerph15102207 National Institutes of Health. Common Genetic Factors Found in 5 Mental Disorders. Zaman R, Hankir A, Jemni M. Lifestyle Factors and Mental Health. Psychiatr Danub. 2019;31(Suppl 3):217-220. Medline Plus. What Is mental health?. National Alliance on Mental Health. Why Self-Esteem Is Important for Mental Health. By Elizabeth Plumptre Elizabeth is a freelance health and wellness writer. She helps brands craft factual, yet relatable content that resonates with diverse audiences. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist Online Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.