Encouraging Professional Help

Often the most important thing you can do for someone who is seriously depressed is to encourage them to seek professional help. But this can be quite challenging. Obstacles can get in the way, including extreme pessimism, uncertainty about where to turn for professional help and support, or becoming discouraged about treatment. Below are ways you can encourage someone who is seriously depressed to seek professional help:

  • Suggest that the person talk with their primary care practitioner or schedule an appointment with a mental health professional (e.g., a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, psychiatric nurse practitioner or licensed mental health counselor).
  • Remind the person that medical and psychological treatments take time, perhaps as long as six weeks to start seeing the effects. Encourage sticking with the treatment, including self-care, and remind the person how much they mean to you through occasional calls and visits.
  • Direct the person to reliable resources. The following are organizations that provide support to people with mental health conditions.

Immediate Help

If you or someone you know is in distress and needs immediate help, dial 988 for the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Additional Resources

Addressing Stigma

The stigma that often surrounds depression and other mental health conditions can be a barrier preventing people from obtaining the support and the professional care they need. It can also lead to isolation and keep people from participating in activities that could help restore their self-esteem. One of the objectives of the Congregational Depression Awareness Program is to break down this stigma by providing resources that can help counter the inaccurate stereotypes and the myths about depression and treatments. These resources include educational materials about depression and about common treatments, along with recorded interviews with people, including religious leaders, who share their experience living with depression — their challenges and what contributed to their recovery.

Depression Stigma: A Pastor’s Reflection

The Rev. William Johnson, Johns Hopkins chaplain and pastor at Sharon Baptist Church in Baltimore, reflects on how his views about depression have evolved over the course of his 39 years in ministry, and he offers suggestions for how congregations can support and assist people who have depression.