Risk Factors

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Risk Factors

Researchers refer to "risk factors" as factors that can cause obstacles to overcoming adversity. These factors can be individual, familial or social in nature. Some people develop mental health problems with few risk factors, while others develop a disorder with the accumulation of several risk factors. People's life courses are very different, therefore making it difficult to predict what would trigger a disorder for one person but not for the other.

Individual risk factors can be innate or acquired. Therefore, a person may come into the world with the risk factors, or they may have them as a result of life experiences. An innate factor is present from birth (e.g., intellectual or physical disability at birth). An acquired factor develops over time through experience and learning (e.g., alcohol abuse).

  • Personality (what makes people individual with respect to their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors)
  • Biology (e.g., premature birth, physical disability, certain learning disabilities, etc.)
  • Age (most mental health disorders develop during childhood and adolescence)
  • Gender (girl, boy, non-binary, etc. e.g., girls have more internal disorders, while boys have more external disorders)
  • Academic failure
  • Substance use (alcohol, drugs)
  • Domestic violence
  • Poor relations with parents or legal guardians
  • The death of a family member or friend
  • Physical/sexual/emotional neglect or abuse
  • Divorce of parents
  • Poverty
  • Natural disasters (e.g. hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc.)
  • Experiences of racism and discrimination
  • Violence in schools
  • Violence in the neighbourhood

References

Anaut, M. (2005). The concept of resilience and its clinical applications.Recherche en soins infirmiers, (3), 4-11.

Crawford, Kelly M. (2006). Risk and protective factors related to resilience in adolescents in an alternative education program. Graduate Theses and Dissertations. http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/etd/2493

Diehl, M., Hay, E. L., & Chui, H. (2012). Personal Risk and Resilience Factors in the Context of Daily Stress. Annual review of gerontology & geriatrics32(1), 251–274. https://doi.org/10.1891/0198-8794.32.251

Jourdan-Ionescu, C. (2014). Projective assessment of resilience. From Person to Society, 1087.

Jourdan-Ionescu, C., Ionescu, S., Bouteyre, E., Roth, M., Méthot, L., & Vasile, D. (2011). Résilience assistée et événements survenant au cours de l’enfance: maltraitance, maladie, divorce, décès des parents et troubles psychiatriques des parents. Traité de résilience assistée, Paris: PUF, 155-246.

National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention. (2004). Risk and Resilience 101. Retrieved June 12, 2020, from http://www.promoteprevent.org/sites/www.promoteprevent.org/files/resources/Risk%20and%20Resilience.pdf

Prevention United. (2020, February 26). Risk and resilience. Retrieved June 12, 2020, from https://preventionunited.org.au/prevention-basics/risk-and-resilience/

Rutter, M. (2012). Resilience as a dynamic concept. Development and Psychopathology24(2), 335–344. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954579412000028

Funded by

Vulnerability, Trauma, Resilience & Culture Laboratory
School of Psychology
Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Ottawa

136 Jean-Jacques Lussier, Ottawa, ON,
Canada, K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 ext. 4459
vtrac@uOttawa.ca