The Parent Rooms

Sustaining Healthy Relationships

Relationships & Perinatal Mental Health

Relate NI is passionate about enabling good quality relationships. Through our 75 years’ experience of working with people throughout Northern Ireland, we’ve come to understand that relationships not only give our lives meaning, but that they are of vital importance to our wellbeing.

Evidence now demonstrates why good quality relationships matter. They can protect us from the effects of long-term health problems; help our recovery, and can even prevent illness in the first place.

At the heart of perinatal mental health are relationships. Becoming a parent is one of the most stressful life events we navigate. We know that the quality of our relationships is linked to our mental health, and many new parents report relationship pressures and arguing more.

The Sustaining Healthy Relationships project is a new and innovative venture for Relate NI. We want to build on the way we work with and provide support to people, by taking our educational interventions into the heart of communities with a view to preventing and or reducing relationship distress and unhelpful parental conflict through providing tools and techniques to encourage, nurture and strengthen the foundational relationships that bring us joy and improve our mental and physical wellbeing.


Stigma Surrounding Relationship Support

A survey commissioned by Relate NI, polled 1,000 nationally representative general consumers in Northern Ireland between 22nd April – 29th April 2022.

The Research indicated that 78% of people understand how poor relationships can negatively impact on their mental health and wellbeing and 48% of people felt educational interventions to work on and improve relationships would be useful.

We understand that there is still a stigma in talking about relationships and that some people believe that ‘what goes on behind closed doors’ should remain so. The research indicated that 60% of people would prefer to keep their relationship difficulties from their family and friends and 16% of people said they felt ashamed in seeking relationship support. We believe it is time for a cultural change in Northern Ireland and we intend to be at the heart of this change.


Parental Conflict

We know that conflict between parents and in families is always going to happen and is totally normal (we are all human,) but how it is handled, has a massive impact on the future of our kids. The evidence shows that children growing up with parents who have low levels of parental conflict or well-resolved parental conflict, whether they are together or separated, enjoy better physical and mental health, better emotional wellbeing, higher qualifications and a lower likelihood of engaging in risky behaviours.

Our research also indicated that 45% of people thought they would benefit from advice and help with managing conflict in their relationships. A total of 55% of people said that they had either witnessed their parents fight in front of them when they were children, or they themselves have fought in front of their own children

In addition, 53% of people had either witnessed in their parents relationship or in their own, a situation where one parent undermined the other, and 55% of people said that in either their own or their parents relationships, there was a total lack of discussion about anything.


Sustaining Healthy Relationships

Relate NI are now providing early intervention educational workshops and on-line materials that will help sustain, nurture and promote healthy relationships. The research indicated that 25% of people do not know what a healthy relationship looks like and 53% of people felt self-help resources with information and guidance from trained professionals would be helpful.

Our Development Manager, Kellie O’Dowd, is on hand to deliver ‘sustaining healthy relationships’ workshops across NI. These sessions, which will be tailored to the needs of your group, will concentrate on developing skills and tools to manage the rough & tumble that can appear in even the most healthy relationships- including couples & family relationships, friendships and our relationship with ourselves! The principles of healthy relationships are the same no matter who we are in a relationship with.

For more information or to get your group involved in these workshops, contact 


Kellie using the details below or visit:



 Kellie O’Dowd 02890323454 /07740362060

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