Can Mental Health Be Genetic?

We’ve blamed almost everything there is to blame on why there is a mental health crisis right now, from mobile phones to the government, to the weather, but we have never pointed the finger closer to home. What if our parents are to blame for mental illnesses? In this article I will explore the possibility of mental illness being genetic and how valid of a point it is.


I know what you’re thinking, not my Mum, she’s been nothing but nice to me my whole life, she always compliments my haircuts even when they’re rubbish, she makes me nice food when I’m sad and she looks after me - she can’t possibly be the reason that I suffer with mental illnesses. Newsflash, she might be.


A study conducted by ReThink suggests to us that mental illness can run in families. It was found that 50 in 100 people can conduct bipolar disorder if both of their parents have the condition. This is more on the extreme end of the spectrum and I promise I’m not blaming your parents here, but there is a link.


We can’t tell completely what causes mental illness. From the past we have discovered the development of a condition could be down to genes so why must it be any different for mental illnesses?


There are other factors to the development of mental illnesses such as having a bad diet, not working out regularly, not sleeping enough, bottling up your problems, stress, drug use and many more (which we discuss in another blog), but perhaps another valid reason could be because your parents may have suffered. As parents it would be hard to discuss your mental health with your children but having that conversation is necessary in letting them know what is going on in their heads too.


To conclude, maybe your mother is not to blame, but maybe she is – We. Don’t. Know. What we do know is that it is a possibility, but it is certainly not the only factor.

Makeda McMillan