Relationships, Family and Mental Health

Coping with mental illness in oneself, one’s partner or a family member can be a source of stress and concern for everyone involved. The impact of mental illness can vary from person to person, couple to couple, and family to family. Let’s talk about relationships, family and mental health.

Relationships, Family and Mental Health

Nevertheless, there are numerous resources available to provide information and support for families in need. By seeking out these resources, families can learn effective ways to manage and cope with mental illness and support their loved ones on the road to recovery.

How Mental Illness can affect Couples

Couples may face unique challenges when one or both individuals in the relationship experience mental health issues. While it’s normal for relationships to have ups and downs, dealing with mental illness can bring additional difficulties.

The day-to-day struggles of living with a mental illness, or supporting a partner who has one, can have a significant impact on the relationship.

It’s common for conflicts to arise in any relationship, but if arguments become more frequent or intense, seeking support through couples therapy or other related support services can be helpful. It’s important to note that violence in a relationship is never acceptable under any circumstances.

Break-ups and Mental Illness

The end of a relationship is always a difficult and stressful time, but when mental illness is involved, the situation can become even more challenging.

If you’re experiencing a break-up and are concerned about your mental health, it’s essential to prioritize self-care.

Ensure you’re getting enough sleep, consuming healthy food and plenty of water, and incorporating daily exercise, even if it’s just a short walk. Confide in trusted friends and family members to talk about your worries.

Additionally, consider reaching out to your doctor for support. Let them know about your concerns regarding how the break-up could impact your overall well-being, and ability to work or care for yourself and your children. They may recommend a few counselling sessions to provide clarity and additional support.


How Mental Illness can Affect Families

Mental illness can have a significant impact on the entire family. It can disrupt established routines, and daily activities, and even impact the family’s financial stability. These changes can elicit different reactions from different family members.

If you’re caring for or living with a family member with a mental illness, there are specialized training courses available to help the whole family.

These courses provide valuable education on how to care for a person who is ill, as well as how to manage your own health and stress levels. It’s worthwhile to ask your doctor about local or online courses that you can access to help you and your family cope with the challenges of living with mental illness.

Parenting while Experiencing Mental Illness

Parenting is a rewarding yet challenging task, and having a mental illness can make it even more difficult for families. If you or your partner are dealing with a mental illness, it’s important to seek additional support to help your family manage these challenges.

For families with children under three years old, Early Parenting Centres are available to provide support.

They offer assistance with sleep issues, feeding, and discipline, and can also help you prioritize your own health and well-being. If you’re located outside Melbourne, ask your doctor to refer you to a centre in your area.

For families with children over three years old, healthcare professionals can guide you towards relevant services in your area.

Speak to your doctor, counsellor, nurse, or another healthcare professional about where you can find support for your family’s unique needs.

Crisis Plans for you and your Children

It’s important to prepare a plan in case of a sudden or rapid deterioration in your own or a family member’s mental health.

Start by creating a list of people you can contact for support. Ensure that the people on the list have each other’s contact details in case of an emergency.

If your children are old enough to use the phone, keep the list of contact numbers in a place where they can easily access it if needed.

Have a conversation with them about what a mental health crisis might look like, and let them know that they can reach out to someone they trust if they ever feel worried about themselves or anyone else.

Being prepared can help you and your family manage difficult situations and provide a sense of security in times of crisis.


Parenting a Child with Mental Illness

Mental illness often manifests in a person’s adolescence or early adulthood, and it’s common for them to still live with their parents when symptoms appear. Anxiety disorders and depression are the most prevalent mental health conditions.

The parent-child relationship can be complicated, and supporting a child with mental illness can be challenging. It’s essential to strike a balance between caring for them and empowering them to take charge of their own mental healthcare.

It’s also crucial to prioritize self-care, such as taking breaks regularly, getting adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising. When you’re healthy and rested, you can better support your child’s mental health needs.

If you feel overwhelmed by your child’s mental health issues, know that there are resources available to help you. You can consult with your doctor or your child’s caseworker to explore more intensive treatment and support options. Hospitals, clinics, and residential programs are among the options worth considering.


It’s crucial to remember that all relationships face challenges. However, if your symptoms have intensified or you and your partner require extra assistance to foster growth in your relationship, it might be wise to seek support from mental health professionals.

According to Miller, “Many couples attempt to resolve their issues independently, but they may still experience tension in their relationship during challenging times.” A couples therapist can act as an impartial third party, offering guidance and facilitating learning and growth while helping you overcome specific obstacles.


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