The Best Medicine

Why relationships and health?

Evidence shows that good quality relationships with partners, family and friends can prevent, delay or minimise the effects of physical and mental health conditions. They can improve wellbeing and potentially reduce pressure on the public purse.

Living with physical or mental health conditions can be a long road, and relationships are a really vital part of making the journey better. Yet when we need our relationships most, the effects of having a health condition can pile on the pressure.

We hope that arguments about public spending might persuade policy-makers to take action, but for those of us who have been there, it’s those personal experiences that make the need for change hit home.

When someone close to me was diagnosed with a serious illness, it had a huge impact right across my family. It has brought me and my partner closer together, but it’s also put us under strain. Friday night trips to the pub are replaced by urgent train rides home, lunch-breaks are often filled with stressed phone calls to update on appointments and future plans are put on hold.

It’s been strange putting this campaign together while experiencing the very challenges we are trying to help with, but it really has hit home why change is needed.

What we’re calling for

Our relationships are often overlooked or ignored in the NHS. Excellent support is out there, but too few people get access to it. 91% of people with a health condition or who are disabled said they are not aware of any relationship support services available to them at all; we were certainly not offered any.

That needs to change.

We’re calling on the government to put relationships at the heart of the NHS, making excellent relationship support more accessible at the point of diagnosis and beyond.

In practice, that means a minister with explicit responsibility for relationships and quality of life for carers and people with long term health conditions in the next government, and for them to run an inquiry into how a focus on relationships can be built in throughout the health system.

We’ve also made a series of practical recommendations for national and local Government, which you can read about in our new policy report with New Philanthropy Capital.

I’m really proud that this campaign is backed by 13 charities that do amazing work every day supporting people with physical and mental health problems, and was shaped by a group of people affected by health conditions who were kind enough to share their experiences with us.

Whether you’re struggling to deal with a diagnosis and the fall out, need help telling people what’s happening, or are supporting someone else – we’re here for you.  We provide impartial and non-judgemental information, support and counselling for all stages of the journey.