How you can help
If someone in your faith (church or faith-based group) is experiencing depression or anxiety, support/tautoko from their faith-based community could be really valuable in their recovery. This could take the form of gently encouraging them to attend activities, and/or visiting and staying in contact if they’re not up to group activities.
The faith community can play a big part in building up the support network of someone experiencing distress. This could include health professionals, other members who have been through journeys of distress, or pastoral care workers. These are all people who could offer a listening ear; give advice, attend appointments, share a meal, and of course join in prayer.
Here are some things you could do:
- find out if they want to be invited to events. It could come across as pressure if you bombard them with invitations. Work out how much persuasion is enough to get them out of their comfort zone and how much will add anxiety.
- send them frequent texts of inspiring verses or quotes to let them know you’re thinking of them
- ask them what they want prayer for and then call them on the phone and pray with them or in your personal devotional or prayer time
- make sure there is always a friend to hang out with at any meetings
- find out what is perceived as “too much support” that causes anxiety or feels over the top
- arrange for regular social catch-ups such as coffee, sports events or the movies
- remember church or community is not just inside the walls of spiritual and sacred spaces
- talk to your faith community leaders about how welcoming and inclusive your community is for those experiencing distress. Consider language, beliefs and practices that might isolate people without meaning to, and try to fix them. Make sure you include those who have real life experiences with distress to be part of your discussions and decision-making.
Do you need immediate help?
Please take any thoughts (whakaaro) around suicide or self-harm seriously – and it’s okay to talk (kōrero) about it. Don’t leave someone alone if they say they feel unsafe.
If you think someone is having thoughts about hurting or killing themselves urgent help is needed. Emergency teams (called CATT or PES) provide 24 hours a day, 7 days a week assessment and short-term treatment services for people experiencing a serious mental health crisis. This could include safety issues. Contact your local Mental Health Services immediately.
Keeping secrets when it comes to suicide and self-harm can be unhelpful to both you and the person. Talk with someone else or call a helpline to discuss your concerns.
Always ask permission to contact services on a person’s behalf however if you feel they are in immediate danger and they won’t give permission you may need to go against their wishes.
If you think you need specialist advice on how to help, call the Depression Helpline 0800 111 757 or contact your local Mental Health Services.