Valentine's Day is celebrated on 14th February in many countries by giving chocolates, flowers and jewellery to someone loved or admired.
Relationships are challenging for everyone, but for someone who is suffering from a mental illness, maintaining a healthy loving relationship is even more difficult. A mental health disorder can cause the sufferer to be distant and believe that they do not deserve someone's affection.

There are some common experiences and Beyond Blue with contributions from Carers Australia has a guide available which includes helpful information, advice and tips for carers and relatives of people who have either just been diagnosed, are recovering or are in the early stages of depression/anxiety. (The beyondblue guide for carers booklet at ).

What is Unhelpful to do:

  • Staying away or avoiding them
  • Telling them they just need to stay busy or get out more
  • Put pressure on the person by telling them to 'snap out of it' or 'get their act together'
  • Pressure them to party more or wipe out how they are feeling with drugs or alcohol
  • Mental illness takes time, treatment and acceptance to manage.


What is helpful to do :

  • Remind yourself that their mood is not because of you. It can feel as if your partner is upset with you, but it is not personal. Many mental health conditions are characterised by mood swings, including feelings of anger, depression and mania
  • Remember that a mental health illness is manageable, through therapy, medication, exercise, group support and one size does not fit all (what worked for a neighbour may not work for your loved one)
  • Spend time talking with the person about their experiences and let them know you are there to listen and not judge
  • Let the person know you have noticed a change in their behaviour
  • Ask questions about their condition, the more you learn the easier it is to understand their condition, but don't push the issue if they do not want to talk about it today. Silence does not mean they do not want your help, they may be doing their own processing when you ask
  • Suggest the person see a doctor or health professional and help make an appointment
  • Offer to go with the person to see the health professional
  • Expect some days to be better than others and they never know when it will happen
  • Don't give up on them on the days they have given up on themselves, experts recommend encouraging them to go to their appointments or whatever is necessary in their treatment process
  • Encourage the person to get enough sleep. exercise and eat healthily
  • Discourage the person from using drugs or alcohol to feel better
  • Encourage friends and family to invite the person out and keep in touch, but don't put pressure on the person to participate in activities. Anything that lets the person know that they are not alone and the feelings are temporary and you will be there with them is helpful.  (hugs, texts, phone calls messages all count)
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