Last week I shared the personal mental health crisis that gave me the courage to leave the security of my job. This ultimately lead to starting this blog dedicated to promoting mental health and helping people live more healthful, balanced lives

Today I want to share 3 risk factors to avoid mental health crisis. There are many factors that contribute to poor mental health including genetics, trauma, drug abuse etc. and this article will not be covering those. This list is presuming that other more serious psychological issues are not at play and we are dealing with a relatively well-adjusted person under normal circumstances.

Risk Factor #1 – Betraying Our Values

“When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken, or cease being honest.”


If we are not true to our inner value system, we will suffer adverse effects of some kind. It doesn’t matter how altruistic the deviation may look or sound…if our inner value system doesn’t match up, the conflict will manifest in some way.

Values: A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life. (According to Google)

Shared Values

Everyone inherits and eventually develops their own set of values. Part of human interaction is sharing our cherished values with others and adopting new ones as we discard the old. Some people share more strongly and passionately than others.

An example of shared values being adopted could be found in the following scenario:

Young, married parents express their value for family life both by example and in conversation with their still single friend (let’s call him Bryan). Despite Bryan’s current value of personal freedom to date around he takes to heart the benefits of a monogamous, committed relationship. He realizes marriage would provide an ideal foundation for raising children of his own.

Bryan has heard and observed the value of marital life and decides that it is worth discarding his old value to take on a new one.

Imposed Values

Sometimes a line is crossed and we try to impose our values on others. We’ve all experienced unhealthy imposing versus healthy sharing. It’s likely that we are personally guilty of value imposing or at least attempting to.

It’s important to note that value imposition can be a positive thing. As a democratic society we vote and make laws as a majority that are imposed on the minority that don’t necessarily agree. Criminals have the law imposed on them for the safety of others. I think we can agree however, that imposition (fines or jail time) without attempts to rehabilitate (help adopt new values) is only a temporary fix.

Criminal activity aside, most impositions we experience in daily life are really just varying combinations of exerted pressure and our own fear of consequences

Let’s go back to the example of Bryan:

Let’s say that instead of embracing the value of married life, he entered into a committed relationship due to the peer pressure he felt as all his friends coupled up and tied the knot. He feels left behind, like a third wheel and he’s constantly being asked when he is going to settle down. No-one is actually forcing him to get married but he feels like he is running out of social options unless he conforms.

Bryan never fully discarded his value for personal freedom but he decides to propose to his current girlfriend to alleviate the social pressure. It’s safe to assume that Bryan will continue to experience inner conflict that would affect the quality of his union.

Sharing our values and embracing new ones isn’t wrong. We should be evaluating what we believe and open to change. Unfortunately though, sometimes we take on other people’s values without realizing, because of intimidation or deception or because we are stuck in a disadvantaged situation where we feel a need to compromise.

Our own values didn’t change…we just stopped being true to them.


Betrayal of our values can be something as serious as lying when your value is to be truthful or as minimal as giving in to up-sizing your fries when you really only wanted a small.

Violations of our value system will certainly cause us trouble and the CRAZY part is that it is us that does the violating. The influencer is only that. An influencer. In the end, we have only ourselves to blame when we give in.

Double Bind

Sometimes we are caught between two values and we get stuck. The Genesis Process by Michael Dye calls this a Double Bind. A damned if you do and damned if you don’t scenario. A lot of people are “stuck” in life situations that feel unsolvable and the answer to their predicament is on the other side of a decision…they just don’t know what decision is the right one because both look impossible.

Here is a single example but from two different perspectives:

A mother goes to work full-time to help support her family financially when staying at home to care for her family is her true inner value. She’s caught between the need for more income and her conviction that she should be at home serving her family.

The opposite could be true as well.

A husband demands that his wife stay home to care for their family despite her inner value of pursuing a meaningful career that she feels serves humanity in a greater way. She’s caught between pleasing her family and a conviction that she has a higher calling.

Our mother in either of these examples is going to either gain the courage to make the choice that lines up with her values or change her values. If her life situation and her values never align she will feel continuous inner turmoil until the disharmony is resolved.

Risk Factor #2 – Unmet Expectations

“If you expect nothing, you can never be disappointed.“

Tonya Hurley

If betraying our values was likened to flammable material, then unmet expectations is the torch that ignites the flames.

Getting a result that is different than what is expected is definitely cause for disappointment.

If we betrayed our values in hopes of a result that never materialized we may feel intense remorse.

If instead we stuck to our values believing it would lead to a positive outcome only to face a negative one, it can cause crisis.


  • Eating nutritious foods and exercising with the belief that it will keep you healthy but getting diagnosed with a disease that is going to shorten your life.
  • Working hard at a job, putting in long hours at the expense of your family only to get “down-sized” instead of receiving the promotion you’d imagined.
  • Envisioning a long, happy family life and committing wholly to that end only to have your dream disrupted by a divorce, death or constant relationship conflict.

We’ve all experienced unmet expectations at one time or another and it can be gut-wrenchingly painful. It can be head spinning for the sanest of people.

Having realistic and educated expectations is advisable but sometimes there’s just no predicting the future and how life will play out. You can make the wisest of choices and do all the right things…Life is unpredictable.

Risk Factor #3 – Moving Too Fast

This is the final point in this list of reasons why mental crisis can occur because it impacts our ability to evaluate the first two points. It accelerates the burn of mental health crisis because it adds “oxygen” to the fire.

When we set up our lives running at a speed that doesn’t allow us to stop and reflect on our values to determine whether our life choices line up, we are impaired.

If we are not evaluating our expectations of ourselves and others, we set ourselves up. We make mistakes and leave ourselves at risk for emotional upheaval.

The life moving too fast will buy that sale item without really thinking about whether it’s really need or fits in the budget. Will eat the donut for breakfast instead of making a nutritious meal instead. Skip the workout. Say yes when the answer should be no and so on.

More importantly, we can’t evaluate and realign our value systems properly either. We may be living with values that need a serious updating but we’re so busy living out those outdated values that we don’t even realize they’re past expiry. We don’t have the necessary time to adopt new values and adjust our lives accordingly.

So my friend, that is my take on why some mental crisis happens. It certainly played a part in mine. (See Mental Health-Finding Hope in the Crisis)

This isn’t necessarily a conclusive list but it’s a great start. Do you have a point to add? Please feel free to add feedback below.

Are you wondering if you are betraying your values, setting yourself up for unmet expectations or moving too fast? I challenge you to take 30 minutes to contemplate this with a journal and a pen (add a hot beverage and some ambiance like a fire, essential oil diffusion or some soft music for an extra special time)

Here are some simple action steps you can take to get engaged with this article:

✏️ Share this Facebook post to be entered into my monthly Tim Horton’s Gift Card drawing
✏️ Feel free to comment below
✏️ Like and share this article with sharing buttons at the top of this page

Thanks for reading!

Melissa Cassidy 

Buy Me a Coffee at

Kofi is a service that allows readers to show appreciation to creators by donating $3 (price of a typical cup of premium coffee). They don’t withhold any of the funds collected. This is an awesome way to support creators you love!

Image from XPhere