This piece is going to be a series for three (3) weeks on the issue of mental health being everyone’s concern. I am Dr. Adiza Musah, your psychologist. If you are just seeing this, follow this link “” to read the first published in the series of this piece on mental health. To continue with our series, we want to understand what mental health can do to you as a person and why it is important to seek help.

Can mental health affect physical health?
Yes, however, both physical and mental health are critical components of total health. For instance, depression raises the likelihood of developing a variety of physical health issues, most notably chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Similarly, the existence of chronic illnesses might raise the likelihood of developing mental illness. 5

Causes of Mental Health Conditions
Mental illness is not caused by a single factor. Numerous variables might increase one’s chance of developing mental illness. 4

  1. Biological factors, such as genetics or brain chemicals. Eric Kandel, MD, a Nobel Prize laureate and Columbia University professor of brain research, asserts that mental health is about biology. ” All mental processes are brain processes, and therefore all disorders of mental functioning are biological diseases,” he explains. ” The brain is the organ of the mind. Where else could [mental illness] be if not in the brain?” 6

This opinion is shared by Thomas R. Insel, MD, head of the National Institute of Mental Health, USA. According to Insel, mental illnesses are no different from heart disease, diabetes, or any other chronic illness. All chronic diseases have behavioral components as well as biological components, he says. “The only difference here is that the organ of interest is the brain instead of the heart or pancreas. But the same basic principles apply.” 6

  1. Life experiences/Early adverse life experiences. Physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse can all have a long-term influence on your mental health. Trauma may have an impact on your self-esteem and interpersonal relationship. Abused and traumatized women are more likely to develop mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).7 Abuse whether in childhood or in adulthood (emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse) can lead to trauma. Trauma can occur as a result of hazardous, scary, or severely stressful situations or events, such as sexual assault, war, an accident or natural catastrophe, the unexpected or violent loss of a close family member, or a significant physical health issue.7 Trauma may have a long-term impact on your mental, physical, and emotional well-being. 7-8
  2. Family history of mental health problems: More often than not mental health illnesses run in families, as such people who have a family member who suffers from one may be more likely to develop one themselves. Susceptibility is a gene-based trait. Many mental illnesses, scientists believe, are caused by mutations in several genes rather than just one or a few, and the way these genes interact with the environment varies by an individual (even identical twins). That is why an individual inherits a risk of developing a mental illness but does not necessarily develop the problem. Mental illness arises as a consequence of the interaction of several genes and environmental factors – such as stress, abuse, or a traumatic event – that can affect or create a disorder in an individual who has a hereditary susceptibility to it. 9
  3. Continuous social and economic pressure: Financial constraints or belonging to a disadvantaged minority group might raise one’s chance of developing mental health issues. According to a study conducted in 2015, various socioeconomic factors contribute to mental health problems, particularly poverty and dwelling on the fringes of a big city. Additionally, the study addressed the disparity in the access and quality of mental health care for specific populations in terms of changeable characteristics that can evolve over time vs immutable factors that remain permanent. 12
    Modifiable factors for mental health disorders include:
    • socioeconomic factors, including the job availability locally,
    • an individual’s level of social activity,
    • education, and
    • Quality of dwelling
    Individuals with a “poor economic standing” also scored highest in this survey for mental health issues.
    Gender is included as a changeable and unmodifiable element in the research. According to the study, being female raised the probability of having a poor mental health condition by 3.96 times.
    in our last publication for this 3-piece series on mental health, we will talk about drug and alcohol abuse, chronic medical conditions and many more.


  1. Strengthening Mental Health Promotionexternal icon. Fact sheet no. 220. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.
  2. Chronic Illness & Mental Health external icon. Bethesda, MD(2015). National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health.
  3. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health, (June 28, 2021).
  5. Kirsten Weir (June 2012). The roots of mental illness; How much of mental illness can the biology of the brain explain?
  7. Oppong, S., Kretchy, I.A., Imbeah, E.P. et al. (2016).Managing mental illness in Ghana: the state of commonly prescribed psychotropic medicines. Int J Ment Health Syst 10, 28.
  8. Sipsma, H., Ofori-Atta, A., Canavan, M. et al. (2013). Poor mental health in Ghana: who is at risk?. BMC Public Health 13, 288.
  9. Adam Felmanon (April 13, 2020)
  12. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2014). SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach. HHS Publication No. SMA 14-4884. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.
  13. Nonvignon et al (2020). Benefit-Cost Analysis of Mental Health Interventions in Ghana.
  14. Dr Atsu Latey (2020). MindIT Mental Health Service Story – Ghana.
  15. World Health Organization. Mental Health: Ghana. Available from:…

Kindly follow the link below to learn and comprehend more about mental health concerns in our first episode.

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Story By: Dr. Adiza Alhassan Musah (PhD)
Patron, Muslimah Mentorship network,Senior Lecturer,
Faculty of Business Management and Professional Studies,
Management and Science University, Malaysia