With Mental Health Week in full force it’s evident that a topic that was once taboo now has huge talkability. How times have changed. My parents’ generation – silver haired baby boomers – often wince at the way younger generations discuss anxiety and depression almost as fluently as we the latest TV show.

Relationships on Female First

Relationships on Female First

But we must consider context. Those immediate post-war generations were raised in an era when having a mental health issue was seen as a sign of weakness. Psychiatric hospitals were deemed ‘madhouses’ and anyone who went to a therapist did so in utmost secrecy.

In all fairness, the population had been battered. People emerged from the Second World War stunned and grieving. Perhaps a stiff upper lip was the only way to navigate the consequences.

Today we live in a different world. We have wars which exist only on foreign news bulletins. We have royalty preaching the importance of speaking out about mental health, along with corporate mentors, life coaches and people far more willing to admit to their struggles. And while, we don’t want to become a nation of wet wipes, it’s good to have meaningful conversations.

eharmony research suggests half of singles (54%) are affected by a mental health issue with rising rates of diagnosis a contributing factor. Their specific challenges include anxiety (39%), depression (39%) and sleep disorders (18%).

Many fear their challenges will damage their chances of finding love (they rarely do) – but, I believe the bigger issue here is the bad behaviour which often contributes to singles’ lack of self-esteem.

Modern dating can be a brutal business – but it shouldn’t be. Surely, we can all afford to be a bit kinder and demonstrate a little more consideration.

The data indicates that singles are particularly bruised by being ghosted, or a date not texting them back – but it only really takes 60 seconds to send someone a polite text. Singles also suffer when a date is critical of their looks or some key aspect of their personality. My advice on this one would be - dodge the bullet and ditch them.

Meanwhile, over one in ten singles (13%) cite ‘gaslighting’ from a potential partner as a mental-health concern. This is the term originally associated with the 1944 film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman in which a woman is forced to question her sanity by a manipulative partner. This chilling behaviour also impacts on people in relationships with almost one in ten saying it triggers them.

Speaking of couples – half of those surveyed say their relationships are impacted by a mental health issue. This can include anything from excessive worrying to OCD tendencies or insomnia. This is a helpful revelation. It means those of us singles who imagine that all life’s problems will instantly be solved the moment we get into a relationship can think again.

Despite the joyful pictures of couples and families that dominate Instagram feeds, the reality is very few relationships are low maintenance. They require work, negotiation and, ideally, shared values and personality traits.

The good news is that more than half (56%) of couples said their relationship grew stronger after they opened up to their partner. Similarly, almost half (48%) indicated that being in a relationship had a positive impact on their mental health.

However, some do still find it harder to open up to a loved one. This is particularly the case amongst those over 35, who are four times more likely to hold off on disclosing a mental health illness – possibly a hangover from an earlier, less tolerant society (17% v 4%).

Which brings me back to the baby boomers. They may dislike talking about ‘feelings’ in microscopic detail. Some might even mutter about ‘snowflakes’ and a lack of true grit. But the truth is they too stand to benefit enormously from a culture that gives people permission to ask for help if and when they need it.

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