Everyone has mental health.

Just like physical health, it can get better or worse. An animation of a person meditating under the text

When mental health suffers, people can develop mental illnesses, which can affect their mood, thinking, and behavior.

Many factors can contribute to mental illnesses, such as genetics, environmental factors, and socio-cultural factors.

What should I do if my partner has a mental illness?

There's no "one size fits all" approach because there are many different types of mental illnesses an individual can experience, but a few important things to keep in mind will help you support your partner.

Jada Pinkett Smith saying,

Do's And Don'ts

Do's Flaticon Icon

  • Listen to them. It's helpful to have an open and honest discussion and try to understand their experience.

  • Be supportive. Check in on them, reassure them that you're there for them, and offer to help find support if they're open to seeking help.

  • Treat them as a person first, and remember that there's more to them than their diagnosis or mental health concerns.

  • Learn more about mental health and mental illnesses. The more knowledge you gain, the more you may be able to understand and help your partner.

A woman saying,

Don'ts Flaticon Icon

  • Try to cure them and solve all their problems. People want to be validated and be able to make their own decisions.

  • Share their personal information without permission. Personal Health Information (PHI) is private and many people don't wish for others to know about their conditions.

  • Trust everything you read or hear. When researching, try to use accredited sources with scientific support. There are many myths and false information about mental illnesses. Base your actions on science, not fiction!

A man saying,

Be Aware Of Your Own Boundaries

While it's important to care for loved ones with mental illnesses, it's also vital to practice self-care, including setting boundaries. These are the limits and rules we set for ourselves within relationships.

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How to set boundaries to better help your partner:

  • Communicate what you can and cannot do

  • Take care of your own needs first and allowing your partner to do the same

  • Maintain autonomy for both you and your partner

  • Say no to requests that you don't feel comfortable with

Lena's Situation

Flaticon Icon Your partner Lena recently confided to you that she might be depressed. She hasn't been feeling good for a while now and is thinking of taking medication. She asks you for your opinion.

What would be the best response?

A. You read somewhere that psychotropic medications have bad side effects, so you tell her she shouldn't take them.

B. Suggest she speak to a healthcare professional.

C. Call her parents and ask them to speak to her instead.

D. Google her symptoms and help her decide which medication to take.


What would be your best response for Lina?

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The Bottom Line

Social support can positively influence mental health. Listening, supporting, and encouraging your partner to seek help are all good things you can do.

At the same time, make sure you take care of yourself and be aware of your own needs.

Check out these resources to learn more:


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