Adult Relationships – How does it affect us?

Mental Health disorders are a cause and a consequence of relationship distresses.

The two way link between the two is largely unknown, however in practice improving the quality of the couple’s relationship, shows, that it is beneficial where mental ill health and relationship distress co-exist.

  • The treatment of relationship distress has the potential mitigate up to 30% of cases of major depression.
  • Unresolved and poorly managed conflict between parents can create long-term emotional and behavioural problems in children.
  • The quality of the parental couple relationship has an impact on the development of attachment in (and potentially therefore the mental health of) infants and young children.
  • Common mental health problems have been found to be more prevalent in people who are experiencing relationship distress than those who are happier in their relationships.
  • Depression/Mood Disorders/Anxiety/Personality Disorders can all be side effects and consequence of a relationship breakdown/distress, whether it is a blood relative or a spouse.

Strong and healthy relationships have the potential to help us cope with the symptoms of depression – and, in some circumstances, be a big influence in whether a person becomes depressed. Close relationships give us a support network, people to talk to and loved ones we can rely on when things are difficult. They can help us to maintain perspective and just generally feel less alone. If your partner/relative is suffering from depression, they may be so overwhelmed by their symptoms that finding the energy to communicate feels impossible, don’t let them feel a burden to their family as this can make it worse, always let them know that you are there no matter how much they don’t want to talk.

The Couple’s Relationship and The Child’s Mental Health

In Child Line’s most recent annual report, ‘family relationships’ – defined as ‘conflict/arguments with family members, parents’ divorce/separation’ – were identified as the leading reason why children contacted the service during that year.

This data shows that from a recent survey within adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), in which ‘Family Relationships Problems’ were reported by CAMHS clinicians as being the biggest presenting problem. In response to relationships, babies may become agitated, and children under 5 years may respond by crying, acting out, freezing or withdrawing from or intervening in the conflict. Older children may show a range of distress including anxiety, depression, aggression, hostility, anti-social behaviour, and perform worse academically than their ability level. Clashing does not just have to be violent; conflict that is marked by deliberate coldness and withdrawal can affect children, potentially creating long-term emotional and behavioural problems.

This film by the World Health Organisation looks at how depression can interact with relationships:

How can SSNMH and Toolbox help?

We see a lot of individuals affected by depression and anxiety. While Toolbox is not a treatment by itself, it can really help to work on bettering yourself.

We can help you begin to unpick what’s happening so you can get a better grip of the situation and how you might begin to address it.

What is Toolbox?

  • Toolbox is an open access, self empowering, emotional well being signposting service.
  • It involves an 1-1 and half hour Toolbox appointment with a SSNMH Toolbox worker and a follow up evaluation at 3 weeks an 3 months.
  • It is to help an individual become more aware of their emotional well being, identify their own support network throughout the 4 identifiable stages of mental health experiences, wellness, illness, distress and crisis and be signposted to emotional well being tools and services that may be helpful for them.
  • Individuals may self refer to a Toolbox appointment or be referred through services and community groups.
  • An important aim of the charity and of the Toolbox project is to support people to become volunteers, by way of offering assistance to gain qualifications, skills and experiences.
  • To get in touch you can either call the office on 01543 301139 or email