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  • Paula Thompson
    Paula Thompson

    How can you support your partner who is struggling with a mental health issue?

    How do you support your partner when they’re in the depths of a mental health crisis? It can feel overwhelming and hopeless - especially if you feel like you’re just along for the ride. But we all make mistakes and sometimes your love and commitment can be the anchor someone needs to find the courage to seek help.

    Life is full of curveballs and it can be hard to know what to do when your partner is struggling - whether it’s depression, anxiety, addiction, or a traumatic experience. Being there for your loved one is difficult and often heartbreaking; many times your partner may not even recognize they have a problem they need to deal with.

    But, if they are willing to seek help and find a way out of the darkness, you can help by being there for them. Having someone to confide in is one of the most important tools in tackling mental health issues - it really can be a lifeline. Your role here doesn’t necessarily have to be therapist or a counselor; it’s about being a steady presence for your partner as they venture into the unknown.

    Something that might sound obvious in theory, but can be difficult in practice, is how to provide your support without becoming a “rescuer.” If your partner is unwilling or unable to seek professional help, it can be easy to take on the responsibility to “fix” them. This won’t do either of you any good; you’re both standing in quicksand, but if you try and pull them out, you both sink together.

    Your partner’s mental health struggle can be a hard thing to accept and acknowledge. But try to make sure you don’t become a martyr while they journey through their difficult times. Don’t be afraid to express your emotions and look after yourself too. Establishing healthy boundaries will mean you can sustain a relationship while respecting each other’s needs enough to prevent things feeling like they’re getting out of control.

    If you’re looking for advice, don’t be afraid to reach out; you could try talking to a counselor or a therapist to find ways you can effectively support your partner. Knowing you have support can also make a massive difference to your partner if your relationship is impacted by mental health issues. Friends, family, and colleagues can be a friendly face when you don’t know how to help from within.

    Being supportive of your partner's mental health doesn’t have to be a burden. Spend quality time doing activities outside of the home, encouraging a regular sleeping pattern, staying fit and eating well - these can all go a long way to keeping positive mindsets alive. If you commit to regular check-ins, where you listen and talk without judgement, this will create an avenue to manage and explore difficult feelings together.

    Finding equilibrium in a relationship amid mental health struggles isn’t easy, but it is possible. Establishing healthy and open communication, making both partners feel safe, and knowing when to be "hands on" and when to give space - is key. That's why it's important to remind yourself (and your partner!) that, above all, you love and cherish each other. Remember, neither of you is the enemy.

    Whatever your level of involvement in supporting your partner during a mental health struggle is, it's essential to stay true to yourself and focus on preserving your own overall wellbeing. taking care of yourself and practicing self-care will help you both to get through this difficult period.

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