By Nancy Virden (c)2021
Christian pastors, teachers, and leaders care about making a difference in the lives of people who come to them for help. Perhaps they and you too feel frustration when spiritual instruction seems to fall flat. How are any of us to know what to say or do when someone had depression and is in a mental crisis? How are we to know what NOT to say or do?
The six letters of the word STIGMA form a helpful acronym. Today’s blog looks at S.
S = Silence
I cannot count how many times I have heard “they need their space” used to explain one’s silence and avoidance when a friend or family member needs support. It may be easier to keep at a distance when a person with depression does not respond to or initiate contact. Nonetheless, we must keep in mind that this situation is not about having our efforts appreciated. The absence of acceptance and validation can feel cold and apathetic to one struggling with depression, adding to an already heightened sense of worthlessness and exclusion.
One psychologist discussed this with other psychologists at a convention. All agreed that a lack of support is the number one commonality between those who experience major depression and other mental or behavioral disorders. No one in pain needs space or silence. Instead, at those times the need for reassurance and active compassion is most acute.
What can you say or do? Be present through visits, invitations, and consistent communication. Encourage other church friends to do the same. Tell the one with depression they are loved by a God whose love never fails, and a Savior who never abandons his own. Say, I am glad you are alive. You are needed and not forgotten.
If you are concerned for this person’s safety, ask straight out, “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” Invite them to call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK perhaps with you present. Be prepared and willing to call 911. Offer a list of counselors in your area and help to make and keep the first appointment. -COMMENTS WELCOME
Today’s Helpful Word
Matthew 25: 34-40
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you …sick…and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
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Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.
NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
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