Statistics show that 26.2% of the adult population, and 13.1 % of children ages 8-15 have a diagnosable mental disorder. Clearly, mental illness is a huge issue in the U.S., and living with someone who has mental illness can wreak havoc on a relationship.
What should you do when you are married to someone who obviously needs help, yet refuses to 1) acknowledge they have a problem and 2) get the assistance they desperately need?
First, approach your partner in a calm and caring way. Let her know that you understand she is going through a tough time, and you are there to help, as well as give unconditional support. Offer to help research therapists or psychiatrists, and even go with her to the first appointment or two.
Assess the situation. If you feel your partner is in immediate danger or hurting herself or someone else, call 911 or take her to the nearest emergency room.
Make sure you don’t judge her. Regardless of the type of illness she is experiencing, your partner is probably feeling some sense of shame and embarrassment, and is likely very sensitive to criticism – real or perceived. It may take several conversations before she agrees to get help, but be patient.
Don’t try to “fix” her. Leave that up to the professionals. Your partner will appreciate a supportive ear to listen to her and a gentle hand to hold hers.
The most important thing you can do for your spouse is encourage and support her. Once she agrees to professional assistance, don’t stop supporting her — let her know that you will always be by her side.