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Communication Strategies with Mentally Ill Partners


Even during the best of times in a relationship, misunderstandings and disagreements occur.

When a partner is experiencing an illness, whether it’s mental or physical, the chances of struggles in communication skyrocket. Miscommunication during an illness can literally be deadly if the ill partner does not receive needed treatment because he/she was not able or willing to speak up.

Here are some tips to help with communication during tough times:

  • Have a plan before illness strikes. On a basic level, talking with your partner about what to do when illness occurs can prepare both of you for what will happen. Deciding what symptoms or signs of illness equate putting the care plan in motion can relieve stress of the unknown for both partners.

Psychiatric advance directives are similar to medical advance directives in that they are planned out while the patient is healthy, but are used when the patient is ill and perhaps cannot make the best decisions about care. This is typically used by healthcare providers, but must be given to them in order to be followed. Some states have online registries that the staff can access in an emergency. In states that do not, someone must provide the directive to the healthcare staff every time.

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Communication Strategies with Mentally Ill Partners

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