Mental health problems – an introduction

Explains what mental health problems are, what may cause them, and the many different kinds of help, treatment and support that are available. Also provides guidance on where to find more information, and tips for friends and family.

Your stories

We've come so far, but got so far to go

Juliette blogs about stigma and misunderstanding and why it's time to change attitudes.

Juliette Burton
Posted on 16/07/2015

How are you?

Claire blogs about the question 'How are you?' and why we should answer honestly.


Posted on 11/05/2015

Tom and Morgan's epic fundraising cycle

Tom and Morgan have set out on a 2000-mile bike ride from Hanoi to Singapore to raise money for mental health.

Posted on 27/03/2015

What causes them?

Mental health problems can have a wide range of causes. In most cases, no one is sure precisely what the cause of a particular problem is. It's likely that for many people there is a combination of factors, although some people may be more deeply affected by certain things than others.

The following factors could potentially trigger a period of poor mental health:

  • childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect
  • social isolation or loneliness
  • experiencing discrimination and stigma
  • the death of someone close to you
  • severe or long-term stress
  • unemployment or losing your job
  • social disadvantage, poverty or debt
  • homelessness or poor housing
  • caring for a family member or friend
  • a long-term physical health condition
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • domestic violence or other abuse as an adult
  • significant trauma as an adult, such as military combat, being involved in a serious accident or being the victim of a violent crime
  • physical causes – for example, a head injury or a condition such as epilepsy can have an impact on behaviour and mood (it is important to rule out causes such as this before seeking further treatment for a mental health problem)
  • genetic factors – researchers are currently investigating whether there might be a genetic cause of various mental health problems but there is no clear proof yet.

My depression seems to flare up during times when I am stressed and isolated from other people.


This information was published in December 2015. We will revise it in 2018.


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