Factors that effect mental health wellbeing (Part 1)

By Sparky

Certain factors to mental health wellbeing balance around a person going about their daily living activities, education, employment, social lives, and self-care.

Some of the factors that have an effect on us are culture and environment, physical, economical, psychological, social, and spiritual, ageing and migration and resilience.

These factors can all contribute to a person’s mental wellbeing, equally if the balance is out in any of the factors, they can contribute to mental health problems.

Culture This can be defined as the ‘way of living of people’, such as behaviours, beliefs, rituals, values, and so on. Cultures differ from country to country, community to community and family to family.

People feel good about themselves when they have a sense of belonging. This sense will come from of the interactions we have with all the different cultural groups throughout our lives, not just our family. When we receive acceptance, support, and interactions with different groups this can mould how we feel about ourselves. Cultures reflect a wide range of different groupings,





Sexual orientation


Religion or beliefs

Socio-economic position


Political beliefs

Immigrant or refugee status and the list goes on…

The positive influence

Being accepted as part of a group with life experiences, differing backgrounds and values and a common way of doing things, provides people with positive feedbacks and feelings as part of the continuing contact and shared goals. This helps to prevent people from feeling isolated. We participate in many different activities that reflect this such as sports events, music events, church services, spiritual gatherings, jamborees, powhiri, gay pride marches etc., these interactions promote our sense of belonging and influence our behaviours. 

The negative influence

When a person is not connected to any particular groups or culture, they may begin to feel isolated and alienated as they lose their sense of belonging. With not having other people to relate to, who have shared values and experiences, may lead to them feeling devalued and no longer worthwhile. For many years and for many different reasons people have needed to move house, areas, and countries, leaving behind people and groups that are important to them, which may leave people with a sense of isolation, loneliness and more vulnerable to mental health problems.

Social Relating to and interacting with other people. This is normally seen as relationships, and relationships take many different forms, for example, family/whanau, friends, partners/intimate relationships, colleagues, church/spiritual groups, heritage, and iwi and any other groups individuals identify with.

The positive influence

Having strong relationships with people who support others can help a person to navigate their way through difficult times or times of uncertainty. Being part of a community and participating in relationships and connections that are pleasurable increases a person’s feeling of self-worth and can make them feel valued as a person. Inclusion in the kinds of relationships that are a positive experience can make a person feel safe and cared for and stronger to face adverse time should they arise.

The negative influence

Mental health problems are often misunderstood by a someone who is not affected, this is often derived from fear. People may avoid someone who is living with a mental illness, as they feel helpless to assist the person and do not know how to handle the other persons behaviour. This can lead to the person with a mental illness to be isolated from their normal social groups and communities and the people who normally provide support.


Name two social groups or cultural groups that you are part of which support you as a person.



How do these two groups support you?

Name two social groups or cultural groups that you are no longer a part of.



How did not being a part of these groups, anymore make you feel, did it affect you? If so, in what way?

Physical  We often think that our mind and body as separate, but our mental health and physical health are interconnected. There has always been a recognised close relationship with good physical health and good mental health. In more recent centuries the concept of ‘mind and body’ medicine and ‘alternative therapies’ have become recognised and accepted as important to wellness as traditional medicine.

The positive influence

There are 5 key aspects to physical wellness:

Good nutrition (eating well), 

Physical activity, 

Quality sleep, 

Good hygiene,  

Good relaxation skills 

If a person can maintain a balance with these aspects, this will support mental health wellbeing.  This will maintain energy levels, support cognitive function (learning) and stabilises the mood.

The negative influence 

It can be more difficult for a person with mental health conditions to maintain this balance. Research has found the 37.6% of people who have mental health issues have long term physical illnesses as well. Making it even more difficult to maintain a good physical health. People with mental health issues are often less motivated to look after their physical health and may also fear being discriminated against by health care providers hence reluctance to seek treatment.

Psychological Psychological wellbeing is used to describe an individual’s emotional health and overall functioning and is a key factor in mental health wellbeing. It influences how people feel about themselves and who they are.

The positive influence (people who are psychologically well, tend to have):


The ability to have positive relationships with others,

A feeling of purpose and meaning in life,

Personal growth and development,

A sense of independence,

The ability to adapt to change,

The ability to manage stress and recover from it,

The ability to enjoy oneself and maintain meaningful relationships, in all aspects of life,

Self-leadership and vision for the future,

A sense of contentment.

All the above aspects help to build resilience when there is balance in the physical health and the psychological health there is less opportunity for stressors and other influences to affect the mental wellbeing.

The negative influence (people who are not psychologically well, may have and/or feel):

An altered sense of self, 



Lower self- confidence,

Negative attitude and outlook,

They may feel some of the most common negative emotions:

Fear, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, Rage, Loneliness, Annoyance, or nervousness.

All these aspects can lead to imbalances in a person’s overall health, both physical and mental.


Think about a time that there was a change in your physical health. How did that affect you mentally, either positively or negatively?

Can you think of any physical exercises or other psychological techniques that you use when you feel, you need to improve your mental wellbeing?

Economic An economy is a system of making and trading things of value. This is usually divided into goods (physical things) and services (things done by people). Individuals need to have enough of an income (money) to provide for the immediate ‘basic needs’, i.e., food (including water), shelter and clothing (warmth), without getting into debt to provide it. The ideal situation is for people to have sufficient money and a steady income, which gives a sense of security, for present and future and which will also allow for people to enjoy their money and share those benefits with others.

The positive influences

When people have control over and can manage their own finances, this can increase their self confidence in that they have control over their own lives. When making decisions about spending, saving, investments and all the issues relating to money, they are shaping their own futures.

The negative influences

One of the most stressful circumstances in people’s lives can be financial difficulties. Ongoing debt can often spiral out of control and can lead to situations of ‘despair’, for some, which will have an impact on the persons wellbeing. The impacts of poor financial situations can lead to poverty. Which is a state of being poor and there will be lack of means to provide the basic material needs or comforts.

Spiritual Many people have spiritual beliefs which include the relationship to a superior being which are related to their personal, perspective on life, death, and the nature of their own reality and existence. Whether this is a religious belief or a spiritual belief. Other people may hold the opinion that there is no evidence to a religious belief and practice no religion.

People’s beliefs systems are often shaped for them by their upbringing and as they get older and are exposed to other experiences and people, they shape and change their beliefs to what they are comfortable with.

A person’s belief system is a very important factor in maintaining their sense of wellbeing especially in difficult times and others with the same or similar belief systems can be a great source of support.

The positive influence

Many people’s beliefs give them a sense of peace with the knowledge that they are safe and happy with their place in the world. This may give them an acceptance of whatever challenges they face. When a person is physically and or mentally unwell, they may look to engage or re-engage with some sort of spiritual support system. 

The negative influence

Equally, when a person is physically and or mentally unwell, they may feel disconnected with their beliefs and start to question them. This can intensify and leave a person with a reduced sense of self, value, and confidence. They can feel they are displaced and alone, which increases their despair and confusion.

Some beliefs and practices can be damaging to a person especially when they are in a vulnerable position health wise and may be led into irrational behaviours that can affect their lives physically and financially. Like joining groups that may be classed as inappropriate.

Such examples of this are what’s commonly known as ’cults or sects’.


Think about how you feel about spirituality. Using the questions below. Tick ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’. This is regarding your personal feelings. There are no right or wrong answers. Remember these are your notes and are yours to keep.



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