So many people deal with mental health struggles. But not everyone with mental health struggles has a mental illness. I believe in taking care of your whole self, not just treating a mental health issue with medication.
Are you someone who knows someone with a mental illness and you’re unsure how to help that person? One of the first things to consider is how close you are to that person; How much influence do you have with them? Will they take your advice? If you are not that close to that person, I suggest you begin to pray for influence with them, as well as wisdom on how to help. If you are close to them, still pray. Pertaining to prayer, I am talking to born-again believers in Jesus Christ.
Another thing to consider when you want to help a loved one with a mental health issue: Is that person already on medication? Or are the issues they are experiencing new symptoms? And how serious are these symptoms?
If your loved one is already on medication, they have been experiencing a problem for weeks or months, and it is affecting their life, urge them to see a doctor. Take note: Are they exercising? Are they indulging in bad eating habits? Are they hanging around negative people consistently? Of course, it matters how close you are to this person. If you have good trust with them, ask these questions if you don’t know the answers already. These may be questions their doctor will ask (I hope!), but maybe you can help your loved one solve the reason for higher levels of anxiety or stress. But like I said, if they are already on medication, they may need an adjustment.
Now, if your loved one is not on medication and is having symptoms they have not dealt with before, and they are serious symptoms, I’d suggest praying for them. If you both are Jesus followers, pray together! Get in the Word of God! Open your Bible and find scriptures that talk about anxiety, fear, enemies trying to overcome your mind, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
While you are praying with your loved one and believing for God’s help, make sure your loved one is getting enough sleep, eating healthfully, and taking vitamin supplements. I want to stress that when treating mental health issues, the whole person is important, not just taking medication and calling it a day.
After making sure that your friend or family member is seeing a doctor and /or taking care of themselves properly, continue to pray for them! We all are in a spiritual battle and prayer is vital, especially when the battle gets strong and negative thoughts and harassment from the enemy begin to manifest through anxiety, depression, emotional struggles, suicidal thoughts, or other symptoms of psychosis.
Prayer is vital, but also make sure you are checking in on your loved one often to see if they are okay. If symptoms are so serious that they need to be hospitalized, visit them often (that is, if they are hospitalized for longer than a day or two). Help them come up with a plan so once they come home, they can stay stable. If they do not know Christ, and you are a believer, share with this person who God loves so much that Jesus saves, and already provided for their salvation and healing. Impress on them the importance of accepting Him as Lord and Savior.
A lot of people with mental illnesses have low self-esteem problems and low opinions of their worth. Encourage your struggling friend or family member to read books to help them understand their worth, as well as developing a journaling habit to get their emotions out and keep track of their progress (whether backward or forward). I’m telling you, reading and journaling are really great self-care habits for anyone’s mental health. If you don’t like to read, or aren’t a writer, still incorporate these activities into your life. They will help you to stay mentally healthy! Encourage your loved one to set a certain amount of time for writing every day. Maybe start writing for ten minutes per day! And read one page per day, to start. Encourage the development of good, healthy habits like this instead of harmful ones.
From personal experience, my husband has been a huge support in my mental health journey. Some tips from what he has been to me: Encourage your loved one past their doubts and fears! If they have thoughts, actions, and beliefs rooted in fear and doubt, lead them gently past those feelings. Encourage them to keep moving forward in productivity and success. You might be thinking that these two things have nothing to do with mental health but yes! They do! Having a daily routine is important and will establish self-worth and esteem. Getting up every morning, cooking healthy meals, having a hobby or job (or their kids, if a parent!) to pour their time and attention into are important. We, as humans are meant to prosper and be fruitful with our time and resources.
In conclusion, encourage your loved one to:
- Receive Jesus as Lord and Savior
- Read their Bible every day and meditate on healing scriptures.
- Incorporate self-care habits such as reading and journaling.
- Healthy diet and exercise.
- Take a multivitamin and research other helpful supplements to foster good mental health.
- Get good sleep.
- Live a healthy lifestyle.
- Seek a good support system (regular Bible study group, 1 or 2 good friends, or a counselor/therapist).
- Encourage medication if they are living healthy and still struggle.
Remember, even if a person chooses 1 or 2 new healthy habits and sticks with them, that’s awesome. Baby steps are great, as long as we are moving forward toward being more healthy. Remind yourself and your loved one that you matter. They matter!