Love, Relationships, and Mental Wellbeing

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Health Assured team

08 February 2024

Love and mental health are intricately connected – one influences the other and the quality of romantic relationships can fundamentally impact psychological wellbeing. Emotional attachment, intimacy, and support can provide a sense of belonging and fulfilment. However, when relationships become strained or toxic, they can adversely affect mental health.

Now could be a good time to evaluate how your relationship is affecting your mental wellbeing. You may be in a long-term relationship, engaged, married, comfortably single, learning the ropes, back on the dating scene, or somewhere in between – romantic relationships will impact your life one way or another if they haven’t already.

Learning how to maintain healthy relationships and what signs to look out for when things start going wrong – which undoubtedly will happen because no relationship is perfect – is crucial in looking after your mental health and finding positive solutions.

We need to start talking about mental wellbeing

Nearly half of all adults will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. This may include post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, and alcoholism – all of which can significantly affect the way we communicate with others.

There may be no relationship type more affected by mental illness than the intimate relationship between partners. Romantic relationships can bring moments of joy, happiness, shared responsibility, and lasting change – but incidences of trauma, workplace stress, and underlying mental health conditions can derail the fabric of a relationship, fundamentally altering a partner’s self-image, causing pain and ultimately a breakdown in relations.

Having a partner affected by a mental health condition can be navigated in a relationship if both partners have the skills and awareness to cope and communicate through these challenges.

People should feel empowered to seek help if they or their loved one is struggling with mental health. Mental illness is not a character flaw nor a moral issue. Yes, people need to be held responsible for their actions and behaviours—but they also deserve context, understanding, and support so they can learn how to manage their wellbeing and heal from past trauma.

Building healthy relationships

A healthy relationship with your partner can enhance your life and make both sides feel good about themselves. This doesn’t just happen though; healthy relationships take time to build and need work to keep them healthy. The more positive effort you put into a relationship, the healthier it should be.

Healthy relationships are commonly based on:

  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Open communication
  • Equality
  • Both shared and individual interests
  • Understanding
  • Honesty
  • Care
  • Emotional support
  • Shared values

In the eleventh episode of our original video podcast 'Peace of Mind', Health Assured's Head of Clinical Support, Kayleigh Frost, speaks to counsellor Kristian Parsons, about relationships.

Communication and mental health

One of the key areas where mental health issues can negatively impact a relationship is communication. Lack of honest communication is widely acknowledged to be linked with forms of anxiety or depression. People who are in healthy relationships talk to each other regularly and listen to each other too. Mental health disorders act as a barrier to achieving this and often lead to a build-up of negative emotions that create misunderstandings.

Just because you love each other doesn’t mean you will be able to communicate well or know what the other is thinking.

To encourage more open communication in your relationship:

  • Set aside time to speak to each other without interruptions
  • Try and put yourself in the other person’s shoes
  • Don’t rely on the other person to second guess what is going on or how you are feeling
  • Listen to each other and make sure the other person knows you are listening to them
  • Let the other person finish what they are saying
  • Talk about things honestly and respectfully
  • Try not to be too defensive
  • Stay calm and try not to attack

Toxic relationships

A toxic relationship is one that makes you feel unsupported, misunderstood, demeaned, or attacked. A relationship is toxic when your wellbeing is threatened in some way – emotionally, psychologically, and even physically.

People with mental illness may be particularly susceptible to toxic relationships since they are already sensitive to negative emotions. For example, someone with bipolar disorder who is going through a depressive episode may have a weaker grip on emotional stability than others, making that person an easier target for toxic people.

If you feel your relationship is becoming overwhelming, you may want to take a step back and check in with yourself. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about what you are going through and make sure to look after your mental wellbeing.

Speaking to a counsellor can provide a clear headspace, different perspectives, and new ideas on how to move forward. Our counsellors can provide comfort, advice, encouragement, and support for what to do next.

Supporting your mental health challenges

With a Health Assured Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), we can offer you practical advice and support when it comes to dealing with anxiety, depression, relationships and how to improve your work-life balance.

Our EAP provides guidance and supports your employees with their mental health in the workplace and at home. We can help you create a safe, productive workspace that supports all.

We support your employees' mental wellbeing with any problems they might be facing in their professional or personal lives with our 24-hour counselling helpline.


Find out more about EAPs


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