Researchers have focused on understanding what factors place some young people at risk for mental illness and what protects some young people despite exposure to the same risk factors. What they’ve learned is that the causes of most mental health disorders lie in some combination of genetic and environmental factors.(34)
Although Michael experiences some challenges that cause him to struggle — such as poor social skills, a lack of self-confidence, and academic difficulties — he also has protective factors, including supportive parents who work with him to help him improve his schoolwork.
Increasing awareness of mental health disorders means that boys like Michael have started to get the help they need to succeed in school and life, but many challenges remain.
Research into what works to build boys’ strengths and reduce the challenges they face is still growing. Although the results are promising, efforts continue to pinpoint what strengths make some boys more likely to succeed and what risks, or challenges, increase the likelihood that they will struggle.