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Mental health and relationships

28 June 2021

Mental health
One of the core principles of mental health recovery is the understanding that a hopeful and meaningful life is experienced in relationships with others.

There is an old African saying called Ubuntu. It means “I am because we are” and the idea is that meaning and fulfilment and even the very essence of who we are is found in relationship with others.

Relationships are key to our ability to heal and deal with the challenges that we encounter in life. 

In fact, our mental health depends upon us having access to those relationships when we need them and to people who understand us.

When we experience mental health difficulties, it is often true that our relationships will also suffer.

Experiences of depression can make us want to withdraw and isolate ourselves.

Social anxieties can lead to avoidance and the repercussions of our behaviours might foster feelings such as shame, unworthiness and hence lead to further isolation. 

When we are experiencing mental health challenges, we will often struggle to understand ourselves let alone have the capacity to share how we feel with others.

How to maintain relationships when managing your mental health

So how do we reach out to others when every part of us wants to avoid and isolate? Even from those who love, support and believe in us.

Take little steps

  • ask for help
  • make an appointment to see your doctor
  • maybe a phone call or meeting up with a friend
  • join a support group.

Please remember that recovery will include the kind of relationships that are a real source of hope and support for us. Bullying or abuse is never okay and will definitely have an adverse effect upon our mental wellbeing. If that is your experience, please reach out for help.

We are here for you.

Jonathan Browning - St John of God Burwood Hospital
Jonathan Browning - Team Leader - Programs and Recovery
Jonathan Browning is the Team Leader - Programs and Recovery at St John of God Burwood Hospital. Jonathan has previously coordinated the Pastoral Services Team at Burwood Hospital.