West Space > Wellbeing workforce area > What is mental health and how you can support others > Factors which affect our mental health and wellbeing 

Factors which affect our mental health and wellbeing 

Our mental health is affected by many things. It can change because of situations we’re in, things we do and things beyond our control.  

Across a lifetime, people will have different experiences with their mental health and wellbeing. Certain stages of life can significantly impact future mental health and wellbeing, such as when a relationship breaks down or the death of a loved one.  

Establishing the conditions for good mental health is essential even before birth and throughout infancy. We also know that positive relationships are an important protective factor for good mental health.

Factors which can affect our mental health and wellbeing include: 

  • Stressful life events 
  • Low income/poverty 
  • Unemployment 
  • Debt 
  • Poor housing and fuel poverty 
  • Violence 
  • Inequality 
  • Addictions to alcohol and drugs 
  • Poor health  
  • Menopause 
  • Loneliness 
  • Work stress 


Groups at higher risk of experiencing poor mental health and wellbeing include: 

  • Marginalised groups who experience discrimination, racism based on age, race, sex, or sexual orientation, disability (or other characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010) 
  • Adults and families who are care experienced 
  • People experiencing abuse 
  • People affected by substance misuse 
  • People experiencing homelessness 
  • People engaged in the justice system 
  • People with a learning disability  
  • People with a physical illness, long term condition or disability 
  • Refugees 
  • Veterans 

Poverty is the biggest cause of poor mental health. Many people in poverty are also digitally excluded, which can mean it is harder for them to access advice, support and services.

It is important to be aware of these factors which affect people’s mental health and wellbeing and understand that some people may face many of the challenges listed and also be at higher risk if they are in the population groups above. 

Because there are so many factors affecting mental health and mental wellbeing, where we are born, live, learn, socialise and work all impacts on our mental wellbeing and mental health. Therefore promoting good mental wellbeing can only be achieved by working in partnership with communities and public, third and private sector partners.

How you can help  

Mental health and wellbeing conditions and pathways in West Lothian  

Being trauma informed 

Mental health and wellbeing definitions 

How to support good wellbeing

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If you’re experiencing low mood, anxiety, or stress in your life, looking into self-help activities and ideas might be the right option for you.