Divorce and Mental Health

Mental Health
Jun 2, 2022

The team at Hong Kong Divorce believes in the importance of self-care and health practices that nourish the mind, body and soul.  Healthy relationships really stem from a healthy mental state and divorce is a traumatic experience that can impact both your health and the health of your children.

As we have seen in our discussions with mental health professionals, learning how to communicate with one another and engaging in open discussion with your children assists in the healing process of divorce and stepping into a hopeful better future which becomes yours and your children’s “new normal.”

Through our many discussions with mental health professionals across Hong Kong, we have gathered useful tips from these experts from a mental health perspective on what individuals going through a divorce should remember during this difficult time:

Tip #1:  Learn to Communicate from the Heart – While changing behaviours is desirable, ultimate change comes from heart change.  According to Dr. Ida Ng, Licensed Psychologist, “[l]earned behaviour is not what naturally flows from the heart where emotions reside and by not addressing the emotions, the issues are not able to resolve.”

Tip #2:  Accept Change – In a divorce, individuals go through several changes and they are now learning to live a world where they must accept a new reality or a “new normal.”  For many, the change is so drastic that it is difficult to accept.  Learning to accept that changes are occurring and allowing yourself the time and space to adapt to the changes is key to healing.  This includes the changes your children may be experience as well.  Provide an open space and forum for your children the ability to speak freely about the changes they are experiencing and the corresponding emotions related to such change.

Tip #3:  Communicate, Communicate and Communicate More – Communication will be key during your divorce.  Individuals must learn to employ effective communication skills not only with their respective ex-partners whether it be through the process of divorce or during co-parenting challenges, but communication will also play a big role in the healing of your children.  This may be the opportune time for couples to attend couples therapy and for children to also attend therapy to allow them a safe space to communicate their feelings and emotions related to the divorce.  Dr. Ken Fung, clinical psychologist at the Jadis Blurton Family Development Center states that “[c]ouples therapy is a tool/platform to create a safe, comfortable and natural platform for couples to communicate with each other.  It is a way for couples to connect emotionally because many couples have been talking intellectually but that didn’t work out so in my sessions, I help them connect emotionally.”

Tip #4:  Employ Empathy and Compromise – As difficult as it might be in a divorce, it is important for couples to understand where their partner and his/her views are coming from.  By only focusing on your own views in a divorce, it becomes difficult to reach a compromise which is essentially a key element in having a healthier divorce and avoid a divorce that is litigious and stressful.  The ability to empathize and compromise will play an even bigger role if you and your spouse are forced to co-parent.  If your children are able to see that both parents can co-parent in a respectful way, you will see a healthier family dynamic post-divorce and this will allow your children to learn from such behaviour in how to navigate their own relationships going forward.

Finally, a uniform consensus among mental health professionals is to mix therapy along with other self-care alternatives.  You may therefore want to consider focusing on self-care activities such as meditation, acupuncture, reiki or any other healing methods that result in peace of mind and relaxation.  You may also consider focusing on your hobbies which can bring great joy and allows your mind and spirit to relax during one of the more stressful times of your life.

The team at Hong Kong Divorce has been conducting in-depth interviews with several mental professionals around Hong Kong and these Spotlight Profiles can be found as a resource on our website.

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