Golden Threads

To provide a snapshot of relationships & mental fitness as part of our new Golden Threads Project, Relate NI recently conducted research with a nationally representative sample of 1000 general consumers in Northern Ireland.

 Cara McVeigh, Relate NI Comms Assistant, gives some analysis on what she found to be some of the most interesting statistics from our poll, as well as some tips on how we can develop healthier relationships which help improve our mental fitness.

Everyone deserves to have a relationship that is full of love and care, whether that’s with family, friends, a partner or even with yourself. The relationship you have with yourself can determine your own happiness, as well as the foundations that build your relationships with others.

Yet 19% of respondents to our survey said their relationship with themselves is ‘bad’ which is the most common relationship that people in NI rated as poor. Being kind to yourself or ‘treating yourself’ is a practise that everyone should implement to build confidence and self- esteem.

After all, if you can’t love yourself, how can you love anybody else?

Family Relationships

With regards to family relationships;

  • 25% of people said their relationships with siblings was either bad or they were indifferent to it
  • 10% of people have a poor relationship with their father, compared to 7% that have a poor relationship with their mother
  • 9% said their relationship with in-laws as fairly bad or very bad
  • 55% have experienced or witnessed fighting in front of their children

Positive family relationships are built on quality time, communication, teamwork and appreciation of others. This helps to resolve conflict, work as a team and enjoy each other’s company. Talking to each other about conflict or issues can be the first step in sustaining a strong healthy relationship.

However, 60% of respondents to our survey said that they prefer to keep relationship problems private from family and friends. If you are among the 60% who doesn’t feel like they can discuss relationship issues with friends and family, perhaps they are even central to some of the issues, then it’s important to seek help from other places! Relate NI counselling services can be helpful in this regard.

In addition to counselling services, the Golden Threads Project also establishes a range of online self- help tools which can support individuals, couples and families to take steps to improving relationships and your mental fitness. It could be something small that helps you to take the first step such as starting a new weekly hobby with a friend or reading our ‘how to argue well’ tips so that you can engage in helpful rather than unhelpful conflict.

Managing Unhelpful Conflict Effectively

According to our research, 51% of people in NI don’t know how to manage conflict in their relationships and only 47% said they would seek relationship support if their relationship is under pressure.

Some of the barriers to a healthy relationship can include:

  • an inability to understand each other
  • a lack of understanding and appreciation of love itself,
  • prioritising personal needs or motives that are of your own self- interest


Overcoming Relationship Barriers

Acceptance is key. No relationship is perfect but realising that you could benefit from some support is the first step. Early intervention is crucial to reduce impact and increase the likelihood your relationship will improve. Even if you think that your relationship is in a good place, emotional accountability such as reading our communication tips, can create alignment to know if you’re on the right track or not. Early intervention when things are great can save a lot of future headaches because you’ll be able to manage conflict better.


Why are relationships important for our well-being?

Relationships are the golden threads that bind our communities together and are a fundamental cornerstone of health and well-being.   has found that strong, high quality relationships that are caring and supportive can reduce stress and some cases of depression. In our own study, 78% of people in NI agreed that poor relationships can have a negative impact on our mental well-being.


68% of people in NI have felt a sense of despair or hopelessness in the past week and a further 80% of people in NI felt that sometimes they are unable to cope when things go wrong.

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. We believe it is time for a cultural change in Northern Ireland and we intend to be at the heart of this change.


Our new Golden Threads project sets out to support healthy relationships and improve mental fitness through providing a range of online self-help resources and educational initiatives in community settings in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council Area.


If you’re seeking any more information on our golden threads project, including how to avail of our free education workshops for your group, don’t hesitate to contact us on;


Telephone: 028 9032 3454


Keep an eye out on our social media pages too for any updated and additional resources on Golden Threads!

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