Author Speaks Out on Depression
Depression and other mental health issues are on the rise. That’s why NavPress author Sharon Fawcett wants to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with these disorders. In her book Hope for Wholeness, Sharon specifically offers hope for freedom from depression.
“In spite of 20 antidepressants, more than 100 electroconvulsive treatments, and 80 weeks as a patient in hospital psychiatric wards, my pathway to healing ultimately came through addressing the spiritual roots of my illness,” she said. “I want to give readers hope that their experience with depression will not be wasted by showing them how God used it for good in my own life.”
Sharon recently sat down with us to answer a few questions on mental health.
What do you think is the No. 1 mental health problem that goes unacknowledged in our society?
Adolescent depression. One in eight teenagers may suffer from depression and only 30% receive any sort of treatment. The consequences can be devastating, hampering a teen’s ability to function socially, academically, and even leading to suicide—the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 24.
In your opinion, are Christians receptive to talking about mental health problems?
I have seen the fear in the eyes of Christ-followers who tell me about their mental health problems. They move close so no one else can hear. I believe Christians want to talk about it, but I don’t think they feel that it’s safe to do so yet.
What can a person do to support someone with a mental health problem?
First, pray. This is the most powerful thing you can do. Then educate yourself about mental illness and available treatments.
Encourage the person to seek professional help and to stick with treatment. Accept and love the person. People with mental health challenges need to know that they aren’t being judged and that they can count on the love and acceptance of those who are important to them.
Find practical ways to ease the daily burden of the person who is struggling. For example, offer to do the laundry, cook a meal, or pick up groceries. Lavish love and attention on the children of a person with mental health issues.
Be available to listen but don’t try to be a therapist. Don’t try to convince the person with a mental health problem that he shouldn’t be feeling what he is feeling or that optimism is the answer. Instead, say that you are sorry he is struggling but that things will get better in time. And watch for signs of hopelessness or a downturn in mood that could indicate suicidal thinking.
You can learn more about Sharon at her website.