This paper reviews the research on relationships and mental health. Individuals who are more mentally healthy are more likely to select into relationships, but relationships are also demonstrably associated with mental health. The type of relationship matters - evidence suggests that more established, committed relationships, such as marriage, are associated with greater benefits than less committed unions such as cohabitation. The association between relationships and mental health is clearly bidirectional, however, stronger effects are observed when mental health is the outcome and relationships are the predictor, suggesting that the causal arrow flows more strongly from relationships to mental health than vice versa. Moreover, improving relationships improves mental health, but improving mental health does not reliably improve relationships. Our review of research corroborates the view that relationships are a keystone component of human functioning that have the potential to influence a broad array of mental health outcomes.
Copyright © 2016. Published by Elsevier Ltd.