Mental health is one of those things you simply cannot afford to take lightly. Whether it is depression, anxiety, or even PTSD, the lack of peace of mind can and most likely will throw your entire life out of balance.
As Christians, we are not immune to mental health issues despite our faith and strong relationship with God. However, what we learn from the Bible and our experiences through fellowship could come in handy not only in our personal struggles but when it comes to helping others.
So what can you do to help a friend in need?
What the Bible says about mental health
While the mental health crisis seems worse than it has ever been, it is not exactly new to human society. People have been struggling with these issues as far back as biblical times.
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You have the likes of David who suffered extreme depression and grief (Psalms 42:11). There is Jesus who struggled with anxiety and grief towards the end when faced with His inevitable death (Mark 14:34-36).
God’s responses to all this unrest are simple:
Do not be afraid
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalms 23:4
You are not alone
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” – Deuteronomy 31:8
Things will get better
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
You are stronger than you think
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13
Let Him take care of you
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”- 1 Peter 5:7
What can we do to help?
Armed with all these tools, there is a lot that you can do to help a friend struggling with mental health issues. Here are a few of these to get you started.
Be a good listener
Sometimes, all someone in a mental health episode needs is someone to listen to. So do it. Listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t judge. Most importantly, don’t impose or make it about yourself by comparing it tactlessly to similar experiences.
Help them outsource support
There are issues that even with the best intentions you may not be the best person to handle. In this case, your best move is to help your friend find help whether it is by referring them to a senior religious leader or even a trained counselor.
Be patient and kind with them
People struggling with mental health are not themselves. They may be irritable, unreasonable, or even downright mean. Don’t take it personally. Instead, be patient and let them come round when they are ready.
Remind them what the Bible says
There is a wealth of information and comfort in the Bible for the struggling mind. All you have to do is point your friend to it. However, they may not be super receptive, and you do not want to seem preachy so find a gentle but firm way to pass the message.
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Don’t just talk, do something
It is not enough to just listen and send them Bible verses. You could also go out of your way to help them with everyday tasks just to lighten their burden. It could be something as small as offering to run an errand for them but it will make all the difference.
Pray for them
Sometimes all you can do is pray for your friend. You may feel helpless as it seems passive but it is probably your most powerful weapon as a Christian warrior in the mental health battle.
Clearly, there is a lot that you can do as a Christian to help a friend with mental health issues. So do not hesitate to reach out and do what you can. Just remember to be gentle and kind and to trust that God is as much involved and concerned as you are if not more.