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How to support partner struggling with mental health

Community Member
my current boyfriend and i have officially been together since october 2020. From pretty much the get go he had told me about his previous struggles with his mental health, however in the last few months he has been hiding his struggles from me which have been affecting our relationship (i didn’t know of his current struggles, so i was somewhat blaming his behaviour on him because he didn’t realise the effects it was having on me and our relationship). I was blaming him for making me feel like he didn’t want me around with certain people, for making me feel like i was ‘embarrassing’, for not acknowledging or respecting me much, for acting different towards me around different groups of people. I told him the way he was making me feel, he apologised, said he doesn’t want me to feel that way. a few days after we were out and i was made to feel that way again, i had ‘the shits’, the following evening i asked if he was going to talk to me, his response “i don’t know who i am anymore, i don’t enjoy the things i used to, some days i don’t know if i’m going to get up or not, i don’t know what i want, some days i love everyone other days i hate everyone, i don’t know if i want a relationship, i love you and i don’t want to drag you along through all of this. I reassured him that everything will be ok, that i will get him the help he needs, i said people who love each other help each other, i’m not going anywhere i just want you to feel like yourself again. Is this his mental health talking? i don’t want him to push me away and regret it down the track. since that conversation he doesn’t want me, he can’t look at me/give me the usual kiss goodnight “i love you”. I hate seeing him like this and hurting. He kept all of this to himself because he is too worried about making others worried what they will think about him. He says his way of coping is making himself as busy as possible to make sure his mind doesn’t wander (e.g., working on his days off - he is a shift worker). I am finding him help (doctors/psychologist appointments aren’t easy to find these days). I am asking for any advice/tips on how to support my partner through this rough patch of life. I know this won’t be an easy journey or will it fix itself overnight.
3 Replies 3

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

one if the statements made to my wife from my psychiatrist was "one of your challenges will be determining if his moods, decisions etc is due to personality or mental illness". I think that's your challenge also. You're relatively new to mental health issues and it's a steep learning curve. Your relationship is also in its infancy. It takes around a decade to really know someone with commonly many arguements along the way.

Eg We read here often how a person with MI separates from their partner and their spouse asks if it's because of the illness. It might or might not be . But if the person simply feels like they no longer want the relationship then it's somewhat annoying for anyone to assume it is illness related. People with MI do have likes and dislikes, wants and needs and do know what they want. Factors that can be illness related depends on the illness, like mood related, extreme sadness, meltdowns and so on. It isn't easy separating illness and personality.

As a man I can suggest that supporting a man isn't easy. Predicting his needs us a challenge. Bare in mind "you can fix everything ". A hand on the shoulder can work better than a chat for one man, another needs to talk all night long and not want touching. But commonly all like words "I'm here, I love you"

He has expressed his desire to keep busy. This tool of distraction is a very good method for those with MI because they feel productive. Like all actions it's only when it gets to obsessive levels that it becomes problematic. So better to steer the boat than try to stop it eg make arrangements by spending a day out relaxing rather that telling him he needs to stop working so hard . Persuasion rather than directives.

Keeping things to himself is a fine quality when considering others. However sharing his inner most thoughts and pain is being open. Again it's early days and in time he'll trust more and be more revealing.

So there's every chance he'll trust more in time and you'll hone your skills with attending to his needs.


Beyondblue topic talking to men, some tops

Beyondblue topic relationship strife, the peace pipe

Well done in posting.


Dear summerloverr
Thank you for showing such courage in posting and sharing your experience.  It sounds like you are very committed and hold much hope for the relationship, however we also hear the challenge you face in supporting your partner.  We are glad you reached out to the forum and hopefully with some support and information you may find a way to build on the hope you hold for the relationship.
You might like to check out the following resource which has some information on supporting someone with a mental illness:
Supporting someone
Click Here
In addition to posting in the forums, we also invite you to call or chat to one of our trained mental health professionals who will also be able to listen and offer care; it’s completely confidential and available 24/7:
To call us, contact 1300 22 4636
To use webchat, Click Here 

Thank you again for joining this community, we hope that you can join other conversations that resonate with you and read about other users and their journey to better mental health.
Kind regards,
Sophie M

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello summerloverr, it is so hard to know what you should do to help someone suffering from a MI because each day is different than the next and what you thought might help one day doesn't necessarily work for the next, so it leaves you feeling perplexed.

The anticipation of believing what may work to help him, may or may not rationalise, but when it does that's good but when it doesn't can also make you feel flat.

A depressed person can change on a daily basis, sometimes they can pretend, especially if others are around, so if you aren't attuned to this, then you could believe that there is nothing wrong with them anymore.

It's difficult for a partner/spouse to keep asking their depressed one questions all the time, because they don't have any answers, if they did then that's what they could work on, so this needs to be handled by a professional.

Can I suggest it's also important that you talk with someone who is qualified, then they can give you some ideas to help you through this.

Best wishes.