1. Mental health struggles are not necessarily a reflection of someone’s spiritual state. If they’re depressed, it’s not that they’re ‘just not getting’ something about the gospel – and if they only read their Bible more or pray harder they’ll be fixed. For one thing, this piles more guilt on someone who’s already struggling. For another it suggests that how you feel is who you are, (which is not the gospel).
If you’re trying to help someone who’s low, by all means speak the gospel to them gently – but don’t hit them round the head with proof texts or suggest a bible study when they can barely wash, let alone read. Often there’s not some sort of ‘key’ that can unlock my sadness and make it all better. That’s okay. But if you tell me there is and link it to my faith, then I end up blaming God or myself and running from both.
2. Don’t expect instant (or even speedy) recovery. Can God instantly heal all sicknesses? – Yes. Does He always do so? – No. Should you pray for healing and be open to the possibility of amazing change? – Yes. Should you demand it as evidence of faith or give up on someone when they fall? – No. Is it encouraging to share testimonies of miraculous recovery? – Yes. Is it encouraging if these are the only stories you hear and you are stumbling yourself? No.
3. Don’t judge by appearances. Just because I’m not stick-thin or clinically obese, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with food. Just because I’m on the prayer rota doesn’t mean I’m going great with God. Just because I say I’m fine, doesn’t always mean I am.
4. Don’t write me off because I have struggles. Don’t assume I’m not reliable or treat me like a child. Remember: Mental health is not a case of ‘them’ and ‘us’. It’s just ‘us’.