Mental wellbeing and the Mediator

Posted by Christine Plews on
There's a lot to think about during a divorce, particularly looking after children, telling your parents and dealing with their emotions, moving house, dividing possessions, setting up bank accounts, and continuing your job. It is no wonder that divorce can cause problems such as stress, anxiety, depression and panic attacks. But how can mediators help with mental wellbeing?

Having become an Accredited Mediator in 2016 and undertaken the required reading and reflective work, I developed an interest in psychopathology which relates to those people who have a diagnosis of poor mental health. Recently I have further studied this area and it has certainly raised many issues which I have found to be helpful in my mediation practice. Some of the facts that I have learnt are:

  • 1 person in 4 will experience some form of mental health problems in any year;
  • at any given time 1 in 6 working age adults have symptoms associated with poor mental health but which do not meet the criteria for diagnosis;
  • a further 1 in 6 working age adults have diagnosable mental health problems;
  • work, money worries and relationship difficulties are big stress factors for people.

Mediators will often meet clients who, in some way or another, will be experiencing some form of relationship problems which probably lead to money worries. Studying psychopathology has made me realise the proportion of people that mediators meet with who, whilst not being diagnosed with an illness or disorder, are likely to have poor mental well-being.

Given that mental health influences how we think and feel about ourselves and others and how we interpret events, this has highlighted to me how supportive the mediation process has to be and how much we have to factor in how the person is feeling. Poor mental health affects our capacity to communicate, deal with relationships and cope with change, transition and life events, I now understand that a lot of people in mediation will struggle when asked to see the other person's point of view, propose a solution that works for them as well as the other person and generally be accommodating, compromising and work collaboratively with maybe (but not always) the person who has triggered the stress response.

It is really quite surprising how many people are able to deal with difficult issues face to face but undoubtedly the mediator can influence and improve the experience for people if only by acknowledging the pressure they are under, something the Court system would find hard to factor in.

There are many benefits to using mediation but being in a more relaxed environment outside of court can often help the mental wellbeing of those experiencing divorce. For more information please contact Christine Plews.

Blake Morgan's family mediators help clients based in London, Reading, Oxford, Southampton and Portsmouth. Please contact us for more information. 

About the Author

Photograph of Christine Plews

Christine leads the Family Law Practice Group and specialises in matters arising out of divorce and separation, including cohabitee disputes. She is an experienced mediator.

Christine Plews
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01865 254213

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