A couple of weeks ago, I asked our congregation to raise their hands if they or someone close to them has been affected by cancer. Obviously, hands went up all over the church. Then I said, “If I asked have you or someone close to you been affected by mental illness, you would be surprised how many hands would also go up.” Here in Canada we have Bell Let’s Talk Day which is a National Campaign on Mental Health Issues and has been very effective in bringing this challenge to the national consciousness. Stats say 20 percent of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. The personal cost can be devastating and the economic cost is in the billions.
At the end of my message on Mental Illness that Sunday I asked one of our ladies to come to the front. She suffered from deep depression for seven years before things started to turn around, and now she leads “The Journey” which is a depression support group that meets weekly. I asked her to share her advice with us about helping someone who is fighting depression. What she said was so good I thought I just had to share it. Here are 18 do’s and don’ts when trying to care for someone fighting depression.
Please “Do” the Following
• Do learn everything you can about Depression. The Internet is a great source.
• If you are a family member or close friend, ask if you could attend one of the meetings with the Psychiatrist or Therapist. A healthcare professional can shed a lot of light on your loved one’s condition.
• Do continue to invite them to social events even if you hear “no” more often than you hear “yes.”
• Do ask how they are feeling. It shows you care.
• Do understand why they cancel plans even at the last minute.
• Do continue to phone even if they only want a brief conversation.
• Send a “Thinking of You” card. This will lift their spirits.
• Do offer them lots of hugs, encouragement and love even when they seem to withdraw.
• Do pray for them and do spiritual warfare on their behalf and let them know you are praying. It will help them to know that.
• Do let them know you are available to help when they ask.
• Do make them a casserole or a treat. Most often cooking is just too hard to do.
Please “Do Not” Do the Following
• Don’t tell them they have unconfessed sin in their lives. If this is the case, God will convict them.
• Don’t tell them they are not praying hard enough or doing enough spiritual warfare. They are doing the best they can. This also implies the depression is their fault.
• Don’t, whatever you do, tell someone who’s depressed to stop taking their medication. You wouldn’t tell a diabetic to stop taking their medication. Also, stopping medication abruptly can be dangerous.
• Don’t tell me to “just snap out of it,” “talk yourself out of it,” “just stop being depressed,” or that they have “too much to be thankful for, that they are being ungrateful or that other people are worse off than them.”
• Don’t tell them the latest fad cure. If there is a cure out there their doctor will surely tell them about it.
• Don’t tell them they look too good to be depressed. Oftentimes a person may be struggling and still look good.
• Most importantly, don’t give up on them. Continue to be their friend even if they can’t be a very good friend in return. Your friendship means more to them than you know.
Great practical advice isn’t it? Please put this into practice and share it with others. Mental health is a serious issue that the church has really ignored. Let’s make a change together.