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How to Help Those With Mental Health Challenges

How to Help Those With Mental Health Challenges

THE BIBLE SAYS: “A true friend shows love at all times and is a brother who is born for times of distress.”​—PROVERBS 17:17.

What That Means

We can easily be overwhelmed when a friend is suffering from mental distress. But we can show how much we care by helping our friend to cope with a distressing mental health problem. How?

How This Can Help

“Be quick to listen.”​—JAMES 1:19.

One of the best ways to help your friend is to listen when he wants to talk. Do not feel that you have to respond to everything he says. Acknowledge what he says, and try to remain compassionate. Keep an open mind, and avoid jumping to conclusions or being judgmental. Remember that he may say things that he does not mean and later regrets.​—Job 6:2, 3.

“Speak consolingly.”​—1 THESSALONIANS 5:14.

Your friend may be anxious, or he may struggle with feelings of worthlessness. By reassuring him that you care, you can be comforting and encouraging, even if you do not know exactly what to say.

“A true friend shows love at all times.”​—PROVERBS 17:17.

Offer practical help. Instead of assuming that you know how to help, ask what you can do. If your friend has a hard time expressing what he needs, try suggesting something practical you could do together, such as going for a walk. Or you could offer to help with shopping, cleaning, or some other task.​—Galatians 6:2.

“Be patient.”​—1 THESSALONIANS 5:14.

Your friend may not always be ready to talk. Reassure your friend that you will gladly listen when he does feel like talking. Because of his illness, your friend may say or do things that hurt you. He may cancel plans with you or become irritable. Be patient and understanding as you offer the support he needs.​—Proverbs 18:24.

Offering Your Support Can Make a Difference

“I make sure that I am a friend that she can count on. Even though I don’t have the solution to her problems, I make it a point to listen to what she has to say. Sometimes all she needs is a listening ear to make her feel better.”​—Farrah, a whose friend suffers from eating and anxiety disorders and clinical depression.

“One of my friends is so kind and positive. She invited me to her home for a delicious meal. In such a warm and loving atmosphere, I was able to express my feelings. That really encouraged me!”​—Ha-eun, who suffers from clinical depression.

“Patience is so important. When my wife does something that upsets me, I remind myself that it is an expression of her illness, not who she is on the inside. This helps me to avoid becoming angry and to be more considerate toward her.”​—Jacob, whose wife suffers from clinical depression.

“My wife has been an incredible support and comfort to me. When I feel overwhelmed with anxiety, she never forces me to do anything that I don’t feel like doing. Sometimes that means that she doesn’t get to do something that she would have loved to do. Her self-sacrificing spirit and generosity are irreplaceable.”​—Enrico, who suffers from anxiety disorder.

a Some names have been changed.