Strategies for Success

Establishing Relationships While Having a Mental Health Condition

Having close relationships with other people is one of the things that make our lives meaningful. Even though it may not come easily, it's worth trying to build important skills that help nurture relationships with other people.

Relationships can help you feel connected and cared for by other people, which can help you feel good about yourself and optimistic for the future. Good relationships also can lower stress, which can help reduce the risk of relapse, and support your recovery journey.

Some people with serious mental health conditions, like schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, may find it challenging to develop relationships, but it is entirely possible to have meaningful relationships with friends and family.

There are many ways to establish and build deeper relationships with other people.

Connect With People

One of the first ways to establish relationships is to meet new people. You can meet people in places where you spend a lot of time or where people gather for a common interest. Examples include:

  • Schools or classes
  • Support groups or advocacy organizations
  • Clubhouses
  • Work settings
  • Religious or spiritual centers
  • Health clubs
  • Mental health centers

Start Conversations

When trying to meet people, improving conversational skills can help. Try to:

  • Choose a person who isn’t busy or occupied
  • Find an interesting topic
  • Listen to the person
  • Show them you are paying attention

Get Closer to People

Improving the quality of your relationships with the people already in your life may be another way to develop close or intimate relationships. To help get closer to people you know, you can:

  • Give compliments and say positive things
  • Ask the other person about himself or herself
  • Share information about yourself gradually
  • Do activities together
  • Be willing to compromise
  • Show them that you care by helping them

Relationships can be an essential part of your recovery process. When establishing relationships, it is important that you create a support network that works for YOU.