Sixty-eight percent of people in NI have felt a sense of despair or hopelessness in the past week.
This is according to polling carried out to coincide with the launch of the new ‘Golden Threads’ Project by relationships charity Relate NI during Mental Health Awareness Week.
The survey also shows that 64% of people asked said that talking to people had felt too much for them while 80% felt they are sometimes unable to cope when things go wrong and 13% said that they never have someone to turn to for support when needed.
While 64% of people felt that their relationship with their partner was fairly good or very good, people appear to be suffering in their relationship with self, which was the most common relationship people rated as poor. 19% of respondents said their relationship with themselves is bad. In fact, 37% of people surveyed felt undeserving of love and care.
In terms of family relationships, 1 in 4 people (25%) felt that their relationship with their sibling(s) was either bad, or they were indifferent to it. People were more likely to have a poor relationship with a father (10%) than with a mother (7%) while 9% rated their relationship with their in laws as either fairly bad or very bad. Only 5% reported having a poor relationship with their children but 55% witnessed their parents fighting or have fought with their partner in front of their own children.
Research has shown that poor quality relationships can be a stress factor for mental illness, and 78% of people agreed that poor relationships can negatively affect mental health & wellbeing. 75% said it was important to resolve relationship problems to limit the negative impacts on mental health, however 23% said they do not know what a healthy relationship looks like and only 47% said that they would seek relationship support if their relationships were under pressure.
Significantly, only 56% of people regularly make time to invest in relationships and 60% said that they would rather keep their relationship problems private from their friends and family.
Trevor Wright, Business Operations Manager at Relate NI, said;
“It is good to see that the majority of people recognise the importance of healthy relationships to our mental health and wellbeing. However, it is worrying that despite knowing this, many people still feel a stigma around reaching out for support.”
Family and friends can be an important support structure, and confiding in them can help bring you closer together. However, if you are like the 60% of people in the survey who would rather keep your relationship issues private from your friends and family, then it is important that you seek help elsewhere!”
“52% of people in the survey said self-help resources with information and guidance from trained professionals would be helpful to them and their families in supporting their relationships and a further 48% said that access to educational programmes could help them to understand how to work on and improve their relationships.”
“As part of our Golden Threads Project launch this Mental Health Awareness Week, Relate NI are delighted to be able to offer a range of new self-help resources which can be downloaded free from our website. We are also able to offer relationship education programmes in community settings in the Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council area and would welcome organisations getting in touch to work with us on these.”
“43% of respondents in our survey said they didn’t know the tipping point of when to seek support and we would say to them that there is no need to wait until things have gotten really bad. Regular relationship maintenance when things are good can help your relationships from falling into crisis in the first place.”
You can view the Golden Threads self-help resources, and find out more about the education and counselling programs on the Relate NI website or by calling 028 9032 3454
The Golden Threads Project is funded by the Department of Health’s Mental Health Support Fund and administered by the Community Foundation Northern Ireland.