How Does Dress Code Affect Mental Health – And How To Deal With Mental Health

Last Updated On: November 29th, 2022

Mental health is one of the neglected causes of death globally. There are so many triggers of mental health, and there is a need to address them, especially among the young generation. At the workplace, dress code contributes immensely to mental health illness.

So how does it affect mental health? Humans hate to be forced to a particular direction without consent. Strict dress codes deny people the freedom to express their fashion views boldly. Employers and institutions should allow one to dress decently and respectfully – not forcing specific codes.

Forced or routine dress codes at work or in schools cause mental health as some want to dress in their likeness. Read this article to learn more about the effect of dress codes on mental health.

How Does Dress Code Affect Mental Health

How Does Dress Code Affect Mental Health?

Mental health relates to the well-being of a person in a mental capacity. It's easier to determine one's mental wellness if one speaks their mind.

According to research, one out of five Americans experience a mental health issue due to dress code rules.

How does the dress code affect mental health?

Dress codes conceal peoples' minds that they should dress a certain way at work or school. Only some people are comfortable with the said code. They, therefore, follow the code against their wish. Defiance without outright actions leads to mental distress.

Accumulatively, these people develop low self-esteem as they feel uncomfortable in the said code. Thus, those affected perform poorly at work or in an institution, which adds to their daily stress.

Having a dress code they hate makes it hard for them to be productive. Poor performance in class and at work makes them go deeper into depression, affecting their mental health.

In advanced stages, if one has a mental illness and is not attended to, it leads to insanity cases. To the strong victims, they end up hating their work and school – eventually dropping out of school or quitting jobs to seek freedom.

How Do Different Dress Code Circumstances Affect Mental Health?

Our society is diverse. The beauty of diversity is to allow some freedom of expression, especially in dressing code. One should be allowed to dress their way so long as it's decent and respectful to others.

Not allowing this freedom causes anxiety and depression, leading to mental illness. Below are examples of different circumstances and how dress codes affect the mental health of its patrons.

  • Strict dress codes in schools and workplaces

In some States, it's even a policy that certain schools have their identity dress code. From an identity look of things, it has a positive impact. However, students from different cultural backgrounds should be allowed to dress in their traditional and cultural attire.

Contrary to that, you will find that most institutions have a strict dress code that doesn't conform to some students' beliefs. Other religions do not support some dress codes, yet the institutions have put them under stringent measures.

The same happens when companies want to promote a specific theme, interfering with one's dress code belief. Thus, the victims who might disagree with the decisions but have no say end up with mental illness as they are forced to go against their values.

  • Transgender and non-binary people

These are the worst affected groups by dress codes at work and in institutions. The community only partially accepts their identity. Yes, attempts have been made to recognize them and champion their rights. However, only some societies are ready to acknowledge them.

Most of them are forced to adhere to a dress code that does not represent their identity. Coupled with social stigmatization, they suffer in silence and shy from their own true identity.

Accordingly, when segregation and humiliation hit them hard, they quickly become mentally enslaved, and some turn into suicidal thoughts. Therefore, schools and institutions should leverage to allow dress codes that identify with these particular groups.

  • Anxiety and low self-esteem

Being in an enclosed mentality position bleeds anxiety and low self-esteem. The tension in life forces one to separate themselves from others with different codes.

No wonder we have so many cases of suicide in our military, who have a specific dress code for the better part of life. Such traumatizes them, and they keep recalling their horrible history, making them commit suicide.

This is how most people suffer from mental health when institutions increase anxiety levels instead of reducing them.

  • Gender-based dress codes

There is an excellent debate about gender-based dress codes where girls and boys are forced to wear a certain way. These strict rules on our children cause them to develop stress, and finally, they are left to fall into mental illnesses.

It is very demeaning when a particular gender or group cannot dress in a certain way they like. Among youngsters, depression leads to mental illness when not corrected.

  • Affecting the self-awareness toxicity

When one stresses a point for too long, exceeding the limit, the affected people tend to be over-self-aware and feel bad about themselves.

This happens when institutions and workplaces force a specific code that makes some victims feel body shamed and uncomfortable. Some dress codes will make one more self-cautious as the mind keeps reminding them how they are unfit.

All these stressful thoughts and perceptions push one into mental illness.

How Does Dress Code Cause Stress?

Not all dress codes cause stress. However, there are several ways in which a dress code can cause anxiety. Discriminative dress code is frequent in our institutions. That makes the enforcement of these codes a pain stubbing thing.

Some dress codes are good, but when it comes to girls especially, you will hear of the length and tightness being an issue. Failing to allow these girls to appreciate their bodies through fitting dress codes puts them at a sexual risk.

Below are some of the reasons some dress codes may cause stress.

  1. Putting strict measures on dress codes. These measures include long sluggish skirts and dresses for girls, while boys in the same institutions enjoy fitting clothes.
  2. Enforcing dress codes that cause exposure of sensitive body parts. Some workers think putting on an exposing dress code will attract customers and clients. This stresses workers who want to work there and maintain their standards.
  3. One may get stressed by having to wear a similar dress code for a long. The mind registers that trend as dull. Seeing others in all manner of codes will cause stressful thinking.
  4. You can also get stressed if you hail from a highly diverse community regarding dress codes and then get compelled by a single code.

Avoid stressful situations as they quickly lead to depression and other mental illnesses.

How To Deal With Mental Health

Dealing with mental health is one of the major sectors that needs attention. Young souls are lost daily due to avoidable situations such as discriminative dress codes and patterns.

So, how can we deal with mental health?

  • It's good to note that it takes time to end mental illness. Therefore, if you notice someone is mentally affected, take them slowly in the healing process.
  • Talk to them so that they can open up about what is troubling their mind. You can use psychosocial assessment plans. After learning of the cause, get the means to help the person.
  • Ensure they are sufficiently facilitated to avoid stressing their well-being.
  • Get a way to get them a different life away from the cause. Eliminate them from triggers and catalysts of mental illness.
  • You can consult help from a psychosocial expert for extreme cases. If the medicine is administered, follow up to ensure they take them.


To reduce the high rate of mental illnesses, I recommend the following.

To schools: Ensure the dress code they choose to implement provides room for freedom and right of expression. No kid should be made to feel bad about themselves.

Help reduce over-self-awareness, discrimination and segregation in schools. With confident students in their dress codes, performance and discipline will improve.

At workplaces: Workplaces should be safe for every staff despite their cultural dress code. Regulations should only focus on decency and respect for colleagues.

The outcome is better performance and a satisfying customer-employee relationship. Both institutions should also lay down plans to have counseling and guiding platforms for their people to help the already affected.


Mental health significantly affects people in our society, some talk about it, while others prefer to keep it to themselves. Whether said or not, mental health is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with.

Dress codes are among the major causes of mental illnesses. At work and school, one is body shamed for their code choice. Others are affected by the dress codes set for them in school and at work.

Every institution should ensure the comfort of its staff and offer assistance to those already affected. Finally, talk to someone if you are going through any mental illness before it worsens.

Thank you for reading; I hope you found it helpful.

Your Thoughts?

Leave a reply

Finding Optimism