Your intimate relationship with your partner can have a big influence on your mental health. Having someone who you trust and love, who trusts and loves you in return, can lead to higher self-esteem, increased confidence, and resilience against life’s difficulties. Positive intimate relationships can also result in lower blood pressure, stress, and depression.
Some situations can put relationships under extra stress—challenges with money, work, or blended families that form when new partners bring their children together. Being able to rely on your partner for support when times are tough can make a positive difference in coping with mental health issues.
If you and your partner are not able to communicate well or resolve conflicts, it may have a negative influence on your mental health and wellbeing.
Having at least one trusting relationship really matters when you're getting better.
My husband is very supportive and he's there when I need him. He understands when I have days where I can't do anything and he encourages me just to go in the garden or paint.
My boyfriend and I have been together for two years now. I have been open about my mental health issues right from the beginning. I told him that I am not an ordinary person, and there will probably be some drama. He was okay with it, and has stuck by me.
At the first opportunity I just let my wife manage her own medication. I think that's helped her reflect and to take responsibility for her own treatment and her wellness.
Relationships are an issue when you have a mental illness. I’ve been married twice, plus a de facto relationship. It can be hard to disclose my illness to a partner but it's better for you and everyone else in the long run.
Support for partners
Sharing your life with someone who has a mental health condition or other health condition can be challenging and confusing. Your roles in the relationship might change and you may need to learn new skills, including deeper personal and emotional skills. There could even be grieving due to unexpected changes in the relationship.
For someone living with a mental health condition, it can be hard to do anything fun or rewarding. One of the most helpful things you can do for your partner is to encourage them to do things they enjoy, and where possible, join them. Going for a walk, spending times with friends or family, or doing something that makes them feel productive can give your partner hope and help them feel like they have control in their life.
There are things you can do to support your relationship even as it changes—counselling, support, and maintaining clear and caring communication.
At the same time, it is important to take care of your personal wellbeing. Take some space to breathe, and allow friends and loved ones to support you if things become too much. Simple steps, when taken together, make a big difference. For example, getting enough sleep and exercise, eating properly, and doing activities you enjoy can help preserve your own identity and keep your sense of self. There is lots of information on looking after your own wellbeing on our meaningful life pages.
There are services and programs specifically for people who support someone with a mental health condition. You may have to take the initiative sometimes, but the important thing is you're not alone. The aim is for you and your partner to be able do this as a team.
If you want to reach out for help but aren't sure where to start, we have resources below to help you get started. We also have pages on support for carers and how to support someone.
A closer look
INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE (IPV) CAN DAMAGE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
In Australia, around 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner. It’s important to look out for typical signs such as coercive, controlling behaviour, threats, and emotional abuse within your relationship, and to seek counselling if you are unsure. Half of the people who experience IPV develop serious mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Read more on our domestic violence page. (Source 1) (Source 2) (Source 3)
STRENGTHENING YOUR RELATIONSHIP MAY BE A GOOD INVESTMENT IN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
The major signs of relationship problems are criticism, defensiveness, and contempt. Becoming aware of these behaviours in yourself or your partner is a positive first step. Learning how to become better friends, manage conflict, and support each other’s hopes for the future can help make your relationship stronger. (Source)
A loss of physical and emotional intimacy can affect mental health
Ebbs and flows in sexual intimacy in relationships are normal. But when your partner is experiencing a mental health condition, it can result in a loss of physical and emotional intimacy that may be harder to navigate. Medication can affect libido, as can the condition itself, such as in the case of depression. (Source)
It's quite common to become depressed after having a baby
Around 14% of new mothers and 10% of new fathers experience postnatal depression. During pregnancy, approximately 10% of women and 5% of men experience depression. Seeking support is very important, as postnatal depression can have a significant effect on a young family. (Source 1) (Source 2)
Self-care is important
When supporting someone with a mental health condition, it’s important to take care of yourself. Take some space to breathe, and allow friends and loved ones to support you if things become too much. Simple steps, when taken together, make a big difference – for example, getting enough sleep and exercise, eating properly, and doing activities you enjoy. (Source)
You might find online and phone-based mental health resources helpful. Some suggestions are below. You can find more with our Search tool (opens in a new tab).