Relationship Problems and Breakups - Mental Health

Tips by Theme or Topic

Download / print

  1. Increased risk for depression and negative outcomes
    1. A breakup can increase risk for depression and negative outcomes like substance misuse and suicide. Some individuals may need support from a mental health professional to cope.
  2. Depict warning signs of related struggles
    1. Messages like “breakups suck, move on” can do more harm than good, because viewers might silence instincts to seek help when needed. Instead, show how breakups can negatively impact mental health to help viewers recognize warning signs and speak up.
  3. Depict healthy recovery through storytelling
    1. Use storytelling to show what healthy recovery processes look like, such as leaning into feelings of hurt, rejection and disappointment, making peace with  the reality that the relationship has ended and. identifying lessons learned and opportunities for self-growth.

Storytelling Tips

Portray a range of mental health experiences
  • Show the serious side of breakups. Breakups often push us toward the distressed end of the mental health continuum. How far we get pushed depends on where we were on the continuum when the breakup happened.
  • For some people, this may just mean a few weeks or months of struggling. For others, it can be a major factor in serious mental health struggles that can lead to negative outcomes like substance misuse and suicide. 
  • Showing how dramatically breakups can impact us can help viewers be more aware of these potential pitfalls in themselves and the people they care about.
Show conversations about mental health and help-seeking
  • Show what open conversations about dealing with a breakup look like. Friends can use active listening to help the person struggling feel heard and not judged. 
Highlight the power of coping skills and self-care
  • Depict healthy coping strategies and what help-seeking after a breakup each look like. Examples include talking with friends, meditation, journaling, exercise, or talking with a therapist.

Snapshot

Many of us have only one or two people in our lives who comprise the bulk of our support network. When the relationship with one of these core sources of support is fractured or ends, it can cause serious distress while simultaneously removing one of our coping strategies. In fact, people coping with the end of a romantic relationship or an important friendship can be at increased risk for depression, substance misuse, and suicide. 

It’s normal for breakups to impact our ability to get things done at work or school, our social life, sleep patterns, and even our physical health for days or weeks. But if these feelings are interfering with our basic well-being and quality of life for months, it’s important to reach out for help. The “these things just hurt for a while and then we move on” mentality can be harmful because it can silence our instincts when we, or somebody we know, are struggling at a more concerning level.   

A healthy recovery process, which can benefit from the support of a trained professional, might include leaning into feelings of hurt, rejection, or disappointment; making peace with difficult feelings and the reality that the relationship has ended; and identifying lessons learned, opportunities for self-growth, and perspectives that can help in future relationships. 

Relationship issues or breakups that involve physical or emotional abuse should be handled with care. Please refer to the relationship abuse section for more details.  

Download / print

more in part 6