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Preventive strategies are used to reduce the occurrence of behavioral health symptoms and disorders. Effective preventive strategies focus on reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors associated with behavioral health.

Risk factors

Risk factors, like genes or certain medical conditions, make it more likely for some people to experience behavioral health conditions than others. Some of the known risk factors include individual, genetic and environmental factors such as:

  • Substance use
  • Relocation
  • Isolation
  • Peer rejection and discrimination
  • Poverty
  • Violence
  • War
  • Unemployment or work stress
  • Personal loss – bereavement
  • Caring for the chronically ill or disabled
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic pain
  • Complications during/after pregnancy
  • Excessive substance use
  • Exposure to aggression, violence and trauma
  • Family conflict
  • Loneliness
  • Medical/mental illness or disability
  • Parental mental illness and/or substance abuse

Protective factors

Unlike risk factors, which increase the chance of behavioral health problems, protective factors defend against these issues and help boost well-being. Some of the known protective factors include individual, genetic, and environmental factors such as:

  • Conflict management skills
  • Self-esteem
  • Social skills
  • Social support and community networks
  • Support of family and friends
  • Volunteering and helping others
  • Ability to cope with stress and face adversity
  • Adequate sleep
  • Autonomy
  • Cognitive stimulation, like learning or mastering skills
  • Exercise
  • Feelings of security
  • Positive parent-child interaction, attachment, and early bonding

Learn more about preventive strategies

While not all of these factors are within our control, there are many that are. Learn more about reducing risk and enhancing protective factors by exploring these preventive strategies:


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