Talking to your partner about your mental health

Ready to tell your partner you’re struggling with your mental health, but unsure how to? We’ve got some advice on how to start that convo and what they might ask.

A group of young people celebrating outside. In the forefront is a young woman smiling with colourful eyeshadow, stood by her a young woman with sunglasses on.

When you like someone, and they like you back, it’s pretty amazing. But if you have a mental health issue, you might be worried about talking to your partner about your mental health and how that might ruin what you have. You might worry how they’ll react or feel unsure even how to start the conversation. We’re here to let you know some of the best ways to open up and how to deal with their response.

Mental health and relationships

Being honest about your mental health can feel like a BIG thing. Not only are you sharing something that might make you feel exposed, you may also feel anxious about the impact sharing your mental health situation can have on your relationship. Will it ruin the honeymoon period? Will your partner understand?

Either way, you shouldn’t hold back on sharing your mental health situation if you feel ready to do so. Sharing what’s going on with you can be a therapeutic experience and make you feel like you’re a more authentic version of you. Plus, your boyfriend/girlfriend or partner could end up being your biggest supporter!

When should I talk to my partner about my mental health?

There’s no rule on when you have to tell someone you’re struggling with your mental health. That’s regardless of whether you’ve been together for a couple of weeks or a couple of years. Every relationship is different.

However, now might be the right time to tell them if:

You trust them

The most important thing when you talk to anyone about your mental health is that you trust them.

Your relationship is more than just a bit of fun

If you’re pretty sure this isn’t a fling you’ll need to be open about your mental health eventually. This should be when you feel comfortable, but it’s worth thinking about opening up sooner rather than later.

Not telling them about your mental health is bothering you

If you’re worried you’ve not told them yet, then it’s probably time you did. Feeling anxious, guilty or worried that you’ve not opened up can be as harmful as actually speaking about your mental health. You’ll likely feel relieved once you’ve opened up to.

You feel ready to talk about your mental health

If you feel ready, then go for it. If you’re close to, or not sure what to say, why not talk to someone you can trust before hand or give us or SANE a call?

What should I say to my partner?

It can be really tough to put how you’re feeling into words, let alone how your mental health might impact that. Firstly, there’s no way to explain this badly or say the wrong thing. It’s all about you and how you’re feeling.

But if you’re feeling worried or anxious about talking about your mental health, it’s worth running through what you might want to say in a ‘dry’ run with somebody who already knows, or a support helpline, such as ours.

Also try:

  • Going somewhere where you won’t be interrupted and where the other person can hear you
  • Sitting face-to-face, or if that feels too formal, going for a walk together
  • Having some resources ready for them to do further research

And don’t forget, if you’re speaking to somebody who’s never struggled with their mental health, then they will likely not know much about mental health conditions. This might mean it takes longer to explain what’s going on, or that they might not initially respond how you expect.

It’s important to remember that you’ve done nothing wrong and it might just be a process.

We also have an article on how to talk about your mental health, which might useful.

Will they break up with me?

Obviously, it’s hard to know for sure, but the likelihood is that they’ll be very accepting of who you are and what you’re experiencing. So, no they aren’t like to break up with you.

And, if they do, do you want to be with somebody who can’t handle something as common and natural as mental health?

If they do end it, don’t blame yourself – your partner is the one saying they’re not strong enough to deal with what’s going on.

Also remember that relationships can and do end for a number of reasons. Break-ups are always hard. Give yourself time to be upset. Then move on to someone who knows how lucky they are to have you – mental health and all.

Want to talk about your mental health?

We’re here everyday from 4pm on our free, anonymous helpline. You can chat to us confidentially and one-on-one. Otherwise, why not join our community to hear about other people’s experiences telling people about their mental health?

Next Steps

  • SANE offers support and information to people affected by mental illness. Call their helpline on 0300 304 7000, open 4:30pm - 10:30pm every day.
  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • Relate is an affordable relationship and sex counselling service. 0300 100 1234
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Toni

Updated on 28-Sep-2020