The Relationship Guide to Caring for Your Partner's Mental Health
Chances are, you, your significant other, or someone very close to both of you is suffering from a mental-health condition. In fact, an estimated one in five U.S. adults are currently living with a mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Thankfully, the stigma around discussing mental health is finally coming to a close—a goal that professionals have been working hard to accomplish and lobby for over several decades. The coronavirus pandemic has also most certainly cast a well-deserved spotlight on how mental-health conditions affect people of all ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and circumstances.
“The reality is we all have mental health, and we do better when we acknowledge it and take care of it,” says Paula Wilbourne, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Sibly. “We worry so much about taking care of our bodies and our skin. Our mental health deserves the same level of attention and transparency.”
Mental-health issues certainly don't just disappear when you're in a relationship. In fact, they could worsen significantly. Relationships often can bring on stress since being in a committed union means consideration for another person, learning how to compromise, and dealing with conflict that naturally arises in partnerships, explains Desreen N. Dudley, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist at Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center in New Haven, Connecticut. “Dealing with relationship issues when a person already struggles with mental illness can feel overwhelming and increase depression and unhappiness, especially in an unhealthy and unsupportive relationship,” she says.