An Evidence Check conducted by the Sax Institute for VicHealth reviewed the recent, high-level evidence on risk and protective factors for mental ill health and mental wellbeing.
The Evidence Check focused on the risk and protective factors associated with positive mental health and wellbeing, or the primary prevention of mental ill health, specifically anxiety and depression. It excluded complex mental illnesses, such as psychosis, as well as suicide prevention.
There were 92 systematic reviews that met the inclusion criteria; 40 were of high quality, 25 were of moderate quality and 27 were of low quality.
Individual-level risk factors were lifestyle factors, including alcohol, cigarette, and other substance use; screen time; and sedentary behaviors, along with sexual orientation and obesity.
Individual-level protective factors included resilience and self-esteem, physical activity, Internet use, and diet.
For children and teenagers, individual-level risk factors included high screen time and obesity while the key individual-level protective factor was physical activity.
These results indicate that evidence-based programs such as the SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness intervention which has been shown to prevent alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use while increasing physical activity among youth would likely also improve and protect the mental wellbeing of participants as these outcomes are known risk and protective factors for mental health.
US adolescents currently experiencing greater mental health issues due to Covid-19 are in critical need for lifestyle behavior interventions targeting substance use, physical activity, diet and other risk and protective factors found associated with mental health among young people.
Read the entire report: https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/-/media/ResourceCentre/PublicationsandResources/General/VicHealth-Attachment-1---Evidence-review-of-risk--protective-factors.pdf?la=en&hash=4CFF1B8DDED1E3CE257289448655A136AB5B4C16#:~:text=Risk%20factors%20were%20childhood%20and,social%20support%20and%20physical%20activity.