The stability found in a good marriage and loving relationship can often combat the negative effects of mental illness or promote better mental health care. However, if you find yourself going through a divorce and your former spouse battles mental illness, it can raise concerns over the well-being of your children.
There are no immediate solutions to mental health concerns, but there are ways to cope with the challenges you face as you try to co-parent in the aftermath of a divorce.
Educate those involved
Even though you dealt with your ex for years and managed to cope with the mental illness, the change in circumstances, living situations, income and stressors can alter how the individual behaves. It is important for your children or fellow family members to identify warning signs or symptoms arising from the illness. This ensures your children stay safe but are also able to relate to or support the other parent. Be sure to only share age-appropriate information.
Identify and use coping strategies
Addressing a mental illness is challenging, but there are coping strategies to help you and your children manage. Remember to separate the illness from the person, especially when dealing with uncharacteristic outbursts or behaviors. Remind yourself and your children that these actions are not personal and to remain calm. When necessary, seek professional help. Put in place strong boundaries to deal with increased instability or volatility.
Your children’s safety is the foremost priority. If the mental illness is out of control, you can use legal or law enforcement resources to ensure your children are physically safe.