National Mental Illness Awareness Week and Divorce

Friends, this is National Mental Illness Awareness Week. The National Alliance on Mental Illness  (NAMI) is focusing on a handful of mental illnesses during this week, including suicide and depression. Divorce is linked to both depression and suicide in adults.   Men are eight times more likely to commit suicide after a divorce. Their chances of suffering from depression double.  More than 50% of divorced women have depression even after 10 years of being divorced.  Depression is also directly linked to the children of divorce. It is well documented that prolonged conflict between parents greatly increases the odds that a child will struggle with depression and substance abuse as adults.

Divorce is a long-suffering health subject.  Rarely does divorce get the attention that it deserves for causing health problems. This is because divorce, which affects all aspects of a person’s life, is handled by isolated specialists.   Lawyers handle the divorce process.  Therapists and “Divorce Care” programs sponsored by religious and/or community groups step in to address the fallout after the divorce is finalized.  Handling the whole problem from the start requires a holistic approach, one that addresses the legal, financial and health aspects of divorce.  This is exactly what mediation and collaborative practice are structured to provide.  

When health is a focus of the divorce process, a different perspective is at play.  This perspective allows people to identify problems sooner and make decisions in proper context.   The result is a better adjustment to a post-divorce life. 

Here are a few basic tips to help cope with divorce in a healthier way:

  • Recognize the emotional symptoms.   Divorce is like an illness that causes fluctuating emotions. It’s normal to feel sad, scared, angry, anxious, exhausted, frustrated and confused.  Make sure you can recognize that each emotion is part of a process you are going through.  Seek the counsel of someone or join a counseling group to help you keep a healthy perspective when your emotions make perspective difficult to achieve.
  • Give yourself a break. Like a person who is dealing with an illness, you are not 100%.  Have the patience you need to heal, regroup and re-energize.
  • Take care of your body. Take time out to exercise. Try to eat well. Find healthy ways to relax.
  • Be mindful. Focus your attention on the present moment. Don’t let the anxiety caused by uncertainty control you.
  • Read all about it. There are endless books on divorce and health. If you have kids, reading these books is vital – and an inexpensive way to get informed. 
  • Don’t involve your children in the conflict. Avoid arguing with or talking negatively about the other parent in front of your kids. Don’t use them as spies or messengers, or make them take sides.

If you know someone contemplating a divorce, make sure you keep their health in mind. At Cleland Collaborative Solutions, we provide people a divorce process that can address all of the issues in divorce, so you can move on to a healthier post-divorce life.       

Categories: Other Musings


One of the primary missions of Cleland Collaborative Solutions is to help you resolve your divorce in Michigan without going to court, through mediation and collaborative practice. Learn more about the benefits of these approaches.
Although Cleland Collaborative Solutions sees divorce litigation as a last resort, it may be unavoidable. In these cases, our work centers on protecting your interests while preventing costly, unnecessary battles. Learn about how we help.

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