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.
If you or someone you know is in distress and needs immediate help, dial 988 for the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
People having a crisis can text HOME to 741741 to be connected with a trained crisis counselor.
This free service is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, throughout the United States.
For more information, visit crisistextline.org.
NAMI offers peer-led education and support programs for people with mental health conditions and for those who are caring for them.
- NAMI Family-to-Family is a class for families, significant others and friends of people with mental health conditions. The course facilitates a better understanding of mental health conditions, strengthens coping skills and empowers participants to become better advocates for their family members.
- NAMI family support groups are for relatives, caregivers and others in the lives of people who have mental illness. Run by local affiliates, the support groups have facilitators trained by NAMI to provide a structure that encourages full group participation. The support groups provide a caring atmosphere for people to share their common experiences, and they help participants develop skills for understanding and the strengths needed to cope.
- NAMI Basics is an education program for parents and caregivers of children and adolescents who have symptoms of a mental illness or who have been diagnosed with a mental illness. The course focuses on major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and other mental health conditions.
- NAMI Family & Friends is a four-hour seminar that informs and supports people who have loved ones with a mental health condition. Participants learn about diagnosis, treatment, recovery, communication strategies, crisis preparation and NAMI resources. Seminar leaders have personal experience with mental health conditions in their families.
- NAMI Peer-to-Peer is a class for adults with mental health conditions. The course encourages growth, healing and recovery.
- NAMI Connection is a support group for people with mental health conditions. Groups meet weekly every other week or monthly, depending on location.
For more information on NAMI programs, visit nami.org.
This national organization focusing on mood disorders has more than 200 affiliate chapters that offer peer-run support groups that meet online or in person. For more information, visit dbsalliance.org.
Pro Bono Counseling connects Marylanders who are uninsured or under-insured, and who have low income and who need mental health counseling, to licensed volunteer therapists. Pro Bono Counseling also provides referrals to other services. Call 410-825-1001 for a confidential phone interview, or visit probonocounseling.org.
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, by Kay Redfield Jamison
Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, by William Styron
Flying With One Wing: God’s Grace In Our Times of Adversity, by Pamula Yerby Hammack
Jesus Wept: When Faith and Depression Meet, by Barbara C. Crafton
Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression, by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
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.