Maintaining a Healthy Relationship With Someone Who Has a Mental Health Condition

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If you are close to someone with a mental health condition, you're probably wondering how to best help them. Maintaining a good relationship with them is one way. But this may feel tough at times, especially when the condition makes it harder for the person to manage their emotions and behaviors. And what helps the most may depend on what mental health condition they have. Here are some things that you can do to help keep your relationship healthy.

  • Learn about the condition.

    Understanding the condition can help you strengthen your relationship. It can help you let go of any blame or false beliefs you might have about the condition.

  • Separate the person from the condition.

    Try not to focus too much on the condition. Instead, focus on the things you enjoy about the person.

  • Make it safe for the person to talk to you.
    • Practice listening. Ask to hear their point of view. Listen closely to what they say. It's often better not to offer your opinion or advice unless asked. When you do, be thoughtful about the person's feelings.
    • Manage how you react. For example, stay calm and try to avoid arguing. If you're feeling too emotional, take some time alone before talking.
    • Try to empathize with them. You may not always agree with them. But you might let them know that you care about how they feel.
  • Offer to help when you can.

    Ask the person how you can be most helpful. If you can, talk to their doctor or counselor about how you can help. Try not to assume you know what the person needs.

  • Have fun together.

    Do something you both enjoy. You could do things like watch a movie, play a game, or spend time outdoors.

  • Build a support system.

    Make sure you both have others you can talk to and lean on. This could be supportive family, close friends, a faith leader, or a mental health support group.

  • Care for yourself.

    Taking good care of your own health will also help you support the person with a mental health condition. Caring for your physical and emotional health can help.

    • Find a counselor for yourself. Counseling can give you tools to help manage stress. You can also learn how to build healthy boundaries with the person who has a mental health condition. You can ask your doctor for a referral.
    • Get enough sleep, eat a variety of healthy foods, and get regular exercise.
    • Practice healthy coping skills, like meditation or deep breathing.
    • Take time to yourself to recharge. You could take a hot bath, go for a walk, or spend time with friends.

Where to get help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you or someone you know talks about suicide, self-harm, a mental health crisis, a substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress, get help right away. You can:

  • Call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
  • Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Text HOME to 741741 to access the Crisis Text Line.

Consider saving these numbers in your phone.

Go to for more information or to chat online.


Current as of: June 24, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.