In keeping with the goals of Bell's "Let's Talk" campaign, we thought it was an appropriate time to talk about how separation and divorce can affect the mental well-being of separating couples and their children.
With 40% of marriages ending in divorce, many Canadians have either a direct or indirect experience with divorce. Divorce is often coupled with fundamental changes in an individual's life that can be stressful and overwhelming: changing of a primary residence, splitting of bank accounts, sharing of parenting roles, and adjusting to a new lifestyle. This is true for both divorcing spouses and children of divorce.
How to Cope with the Emotional Fallout of Divorce
Anyone experiencing divorce (both adults and children) should take steps to ensure they're properly coping with the many emotions accompanying divorce: sadness, grief, anger, confusion, loss, depression, anxiety, fear, etc. These emotions are normal, and it is important to take the necessary steps to deal with these feelings in a healthy matter. Participating in a weekly physical activity, seeing a mental health professional, such as a counselor or psychologist, reaching out to trusted family and friends, and building a network of support have all been found to be valuable in promoting a healthy adjustment to divorce. By taking care of your mental health, you can also more efficiently work with your divorce lawyer in advancing your case.
Support for Divorcing Parents is Key
Seeking support from a professional counselor or psychologist is especially important for divorcing parents. As divorce lawyers, we are well acquainted with clinical studies demonstrating the impact divorce has on children. These studies show divorce, in of itself, does not cause significant problems for children, it is the level of conflict the children witness that can determine the impact. Clinical child psychologist Joan B. Kelly, Ph.D. has found that parental conflict is a strong predictor of child maladjustment rather than divorce itself. In fact, the emerging science of epigenetics has found that high conflict has an impact on a child's brain development. There is a direct link between parental conflict and a child's cognitive and intellectual development (El- Sheikh, 2008). By seeking the support of a mental health professional, parents can build the skills needed to co-parent effectively, manage the changes in their lives, and minimize the potential conflict arising out of a divorce.
Bell's "Let's Talk" Campaign (#BellLetsTalk)
All in all the studies are clear, by taking steps to promote a healthy mind, both adults and children are better equipped to adjust to the changes surrounding divorce. This proactive approach to mental well-being is one of the underlying goals of Bell's "Let's Talk" campaign (today!). "Let's Talk" is designed to get people talking about mental illness with a view to removing the stigma and helping people access the treatment they need. The campaign is based on four pillars:
- Fighting the stigma that is often (wrongly) associated with mental health issues
- Improving access to resources for people facing mental health challenges
- Fostering workplaces that support mental wellness
- Supporting ongoing world-class research
To find out how you can participate in raising funds to support the campaign, click HERE.