What Challenges Are Boys Facing, and What Opportunities Exist To Address Those Challenges? Fact Sheet: Mental Health*. What Factors Increase or Decrease the Risks for Mental Health Disorders?


Researchers have focused on understanding mental health problems among children and adolescents to help boys like Michael transition successfully to adulthood. In the process, they have learned valuable lessons about boys’ and girls’ risk factors — those traits and life experiences that can jeopardize a person’s healthy development — and protective factors — the characteristics and life experiences that can increase a person’s likelihood of positive outcomes.(31)

Reasons young people may struggle with mental health disorders:

  • Poverty
  • Genetic predisposition(32)
  • Difficult temperament
  • Poor social skills
  • Deviant peer group

Family and school factors that may contribute to the risk of mental health disorders:

  • Abusive parents(33)
  • Parents with substance abuse problems
  • Teachers who cannot effectively manage behavior in the classroom
  • Lack of attachment to school

Factors that help protect young people from the risks and ramifications of mental health disorders:

  • Self-confidence
  • Positive problem solving skills
  • Effective parenting
  • Positive relationships with peers
  • Attachment to school
  • Positive social activities

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