Helping A Friend (Pastor Alinicia Gibson)

If you have a friend or family member who is struggling with mental health challenges, the first thing I want you to know is that it’s not your job to “heal” them. And honestly, they probably aren’t looking for you to do that anyway. So many people get caught up in thinking that they need to “fix” other people when that’s not their job at all.

Instead, focus on letting them know that you are there for them and an ear that will listen. Many times people aren’t looking for someone to tell them what to do, they just want to know that they have a friend who will be there for them. You can be this person! Here are a few things to remember                                                                                                                                                                                                                         If you don’t understand what they are going through, then don’t say that you do.   We all have our own issues.

  1. Do not break their trust. If they are sharing something with you in private, don’t tell anyone else about it. The one exception is if they are having suicidal thoughts and you need to get them help.
  2. Check in on them. Don’t wait for them to contact you.
  3. If you ask them how they are doing and they say “fine” or “good”, then ask them how they are really doing. Let them know you want the real answer, not the fake answer they think you want to hear.
  4. Look for ways to encourage them or show that you are thinking about them.
  5. Just listen. Really listen…actively. Don’t pretend to listen while thinking about something else. It can be hard to share personal things and if they find out you aren’t really listening, they aren’t going to open up to you again.
  6. Don’t do or say anything that implies you think they need to “just get over it”.


What is A Mental Illness?

First, What Is a Mental Illness?

 

Mental illnesses are brain illnesses that are characterized by changes in a persons’ thinking, mood, or behavior, and that are accompanied by significant distress, or impairment in functioning (Healthy People, 2010). While spiritual beliefs in the life of a person with a mental illness can help to provide hope and strength, they do not automatically exempt a person from becoming ill. No one regardless of their race or economic status is exempt from the impact of having an untreated mental illness.

Currently as identified in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5) (a book that is used by mental health professionals to identify and classify symptoms) there are currently over 15 broad categories of mental illness.

 

While the exact causes of many mental disorders are still unknown, according to published reports, it is likely that biological, psychological, and social/cultural factors all work together to shape the development of many diseases, to include mental illnesses (Surgeon Generals’ Report, 1999). Some of the major theories currently associated with the causes of mental illnesses include genetics, changes in brain chemicals, infections, psychological issues, the environment, life events, personality, and developmental factors.

 

Why do people become ill?

From a spiritual perspective, we know that man consists of a spirit, soul, and body. Any change or problem in any one of these three areas can influence the other parts, in either a positive or a negative way.

 

Likewise, the brain an organ just like the liver or heart, can negatively influence or be influenced by various factors that can cause impairments in the life of an individual. Traumatic brain injuries or fluctuations in brain chemicals can trigger changes in the personality or the soulish area of an individual to such an extent, that it can appear to look as if the person is undergoing a spiritual attack. While there may be some illnesses that are demonically induced those are not the kind that we are addressing in this booklet. Mental illnesses are brain illnesses.

 

Some disorders last only for a while and may have limited impact on a persons’ life. While others may be more expansive and severe. “Serious mental illness is a term used in federal regulations that define some 5.4 percent of the U.S. adult population with a mental disorder that interferes with at least one area of social functioning. About half of these people (2.6 percent of adults) experience a severe and persistent mental illness” https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.25.3.737

Severe and persistent mental illnesses are illnesses that are long-lasting, persistent or chronic in nature. Severe mental illnesses like Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorders can impact all aspects of a persons’ life to include their ability to work, go to school, and or to even have a family. Symptoms of severe and persistent mental illnesses, like those of diabetes and other chronic diseases, fluctuate in intensity, and even with the use of medications individuals may never be totally free of symptoms.



Family Members



Suicide and Faith



Depression is a sign of weakness

Depression is a sign of weakness. It means that there is a “Weakness” in your normal way of coping and thinking that is leading to behaviors that are not helpful to you. The good news there is help and people who can help you through this. IGBATTMHO