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Environmental Factors that affect Your Mental Health

Environmental Factors that affect Your Mental Health

Mental illness is a complex and multi-dimensional concept. There are so many causal and risk factors associated with the various mental disorders: from genetics, negative life events, neurochemical imbalances to lifestyle and environment.  


 Your environment, which includes where you live, work, the people around you, and your community play a significant role in preserving your mental health. When we talk about environment in the concept of mental health, we recognize the social and physical environment.  Your social environment includes where you live (such as in an abusive home), the level of stigma/discrimination you face, lack of social support, family home history, and poverty. 

Your physical environment has to do with your lifestyle (drug & alcohol use, diet, poor sleep), pollutions and toxins you are exposed to, work/school environment, and weather conditions. 

Now, how do these factors affect your mental health? 

The people around you 

From your family, your friends to your romantic partners, the people around you play an important role in maintaining your mental health. Starting from childhood, factors such as abuse, sexual assault, living in a troubled home, or living in poverty can significantly increase your risk of developing mental illness in adulthood. These factors are common risk factors for disorders such as anti-social disorder, conduct disorders, and anxiety.  

Inter-personal relationships can also be a significant source of mental distress.  

Gas-lighting and inconsistent communication can be stressful and triggering for a lot of people. Living or regularly interacting with people who have disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder can disrupt your self-esteem and your mental health in general.  

However, having a strong support system can be a protective factor against disorders like depression and anxiety while also making it easier to cope with other mental health conditions.  

Weather and atmospheric conditions 


Many people fail to take the impact of extreme weather conditions and environmental pollution on mental health into account. Just think about how you feel when the weather is continuously hot or cold or constantly wet. Over time, you get tired and stressed out because of it.  

This impact can be heightened if the weather conditions can potentially endanger your life, your loved ones, and your property. For instance, people who live in places with minimal sunlight at certain times of the year tend to experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Research has shown that growing up in an area with much polluted air increases your chances of developing depression in adulthood.  

Working environment 


With the exception of school, you will most likely spend the majority of your life at work. If you work in an environment filled with stress, pressure, stigma/discrimination, exhaustion, and risk of physical danger, you put your mental health in danger. A very stressful work environment can lead to burnout, depression, anxiety, and even kill your self-esteem and confidence.  

Sensory information 

One factor you tend to ignore but which can affect your mental health significantly is sensory information. Your brain reacts when a place is too crowded, loud, too dark or bright, smells very strongly, or is too hot or too cold. In such situations, you may find yourself getting irritable, anxious, agitated, overwhelmed, and even demotivated.  

On the other hand, a quiet, well-ventilated, balanced area can trigger feelings of calmness, relaxation, and enhance concentration.   



Mental health and illness has always resulted from an interaction of nature (genetics) and nurture (environment). However, we tend to overlook the importance of the environment in mental health. Your environment can increase your risk of developing mental disorders but can also serve as a protector against these disorders. If you think your environment is a major stressor, try to make significant changes; switch jobs, move into your own place, or join a community.