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Hope & Help | Northgate

Mental Health Resources

Taking care of our mental health is crucial. The Bible reminds us that "the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18, ESV). Whether you're personally struggling or looking to help someone with mental health challenges, remember that seeking support is not a sign of weakness but a step toward healing. Jesus calls us to love one another deeply (John 13:34), and that love includes listening, encouraging, and walking alongside those who may be battling anxiety, depression, or overwhelming stress. By offering kindness, prayer, and understanding, we can reflect God's comforting love and bring hope to those who need it most.

As part of our "Hope & Help" series, we are committed to providing valuable resources to assist in any mental health journey. From informative articles and inspirational testimonials to links for professional help and crisis intervention, we aim to equip you with the resources you need to manage stress, tackle anxiety, and combat depression. Whether you're seeking guidance for yourself or someone you care about, our resources offer hope and help every step of the way. Join us as we navigate these crucial topics, fostering a healthier, more resilient community.

What is mental health? It might be helpful to think about what mental health is not. Mental health isn't psychological perfection, the absence of emotional distress, or a state of peace and joy that is entirely unshakable and unaffected by the things around us. We live in a broken world, and we are imperfect beings, which is impossible. Grief, sorrow, anxiety, fear, and so on can be the correct responses to the pain of our world. So, if mental health isn't this perfect state of positive emotion, what is it?

Mental health can be understood as a state of well-being that enables us to cope with the stresses of life, learn and work well, contribute to our community, and enjoy life. Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being and involves how we think, feel, and act. Mental health is essential regardless of age, from the youngest child to the oldest adult. Mental health is about optimal functioning, general well-being, and resilience in life.

Why is it so hard to talk about mental health or mental illness? Throughout history, mental illness has been associated with stigma and seen as a sign of weakness or deficiency. As a result, a sense of secrecy and shame or self-blame discourages people from seeking help.

In addition, there's steady pressure in our society to live Instagram or Facebook-worthy lives - to have it all together, look pretty, and do amazing things that make us happy. It can be hard to admit that life isn't like that for me, and actually, I'm struggling with anxiety or depression. For some ethnicities, like my own (Asian Americans), talking about mental health can be especially
hard because of cultural dynamics and expectations.

If you're someone who struggles with anxiety, simply hearing that word might already raise some butterflies in your stomach or tightness in your chest. Be at peace. I am not going to tell you that you are not a good Christian because you worry, or that if you just prayed more, you wouldn't be anxious, or that anxiety is a sin because there are so many Bible verses that command us "Do not fear" and "Do not worry."

The truth is, there are so many Bible verses about worry and fear because this is a natural human emotion - if you are human, you will experience anxiety. But God does not want us to be crippled by anxiety. So, let's talk about what anxiety is and what we
can do about it.

Depression can affect men and women differently. When women experience depression, it often shows up as feeling sad, anxious, hopeless, guilty, worthless, or helpless. When men experience depression, it often doesn't look like sadness and crying. In men, depression instead often looks like irritability, impatience, headaches, feeling withdrawn, and unexplained anger, and it may be hidden by unhealthy coping behavior, like working all the time, drinking too much, or isolating for hours with sports TV. Because of this, depression in men often goes undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated. However, depression may show up in any particular person; the bottom line is that depression affects everything - our emotions, our thoughts, our relationships, and our actions.

Self-harm, whether it is cutting or misusing drugs, is a way of expressing something that needs to come out...somehow. It's much better to have those feelings come out through words - talking with someone who cares will help release the pressure building inside. But it's hard to talk about feelings of self-harm and suicide. But often, it's hard to share what's happening inside, maybe because you don't even want to think about what you're thinking or feel what you're feeling. It's hard to talk about self-harm and suicide because whether you are the one experiencing these feelings or concerned about someone you love, you can feel very alone. So please hear me - You...are not...alone.

Usually, we hear this question from someone deeply concerned about a loved one, and they've tried to help in various ways, but it hasn't changed the situation. Let's clarify what you mean by "help." If "help" means, "how can I fix their problem or fix the person," hang on! Of course, we want to fix it! We want their depression to go away, or we want them to stop being anxious, or stop moping around the house, or stop their self-destructive coping methods (drinking, cutting, etc.). Wanting to fix them or fix the problem is so understandable! But "fixing" isn't necessarily help.

The Bible tells the story of a devout and wealthy man named Job who lost all of his children (7 sons & 3 daughters) and all his wealth (7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, 500 donkeys) because of thieves and natural disasters... all in one day. That is an unimaginable loss. And then, to make things even worse, Job became afflicted with painful sores all over his body. Job's wife is filled with grief and anger and tells Job to curse God, give up, and die, but Job tries to endure and remain faithful to God.

Three of Job's friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to comfort Job, and they sit in silence with him for seven days. For a whole week, no one talks, and they sit together. Finally, Job begins to open up and share his grief, and that's when we start to see a spectacular example of what NOT to do when we try to help someone struggling. Eliphaz explains Job's suffering as the result of some hidden sin. Bildad expands this to suggest that Job's children brought their deaths upon themselves. And Zophar takes it even further, saying that given the horror of what has occurred and the depth of sin it reflects, Job probably deserves even worse than what is already happening.

How many ways are there to listen to someone? Actually, a lot! One of the most common ways is distracted listening. That's when we nod our heads and say, "Uh huh," but we're really thinking or doing something else (I've done this a million times when my kids were little, and I was trying to make dinner!). Another type of listening is "strategic listening." That's when we listen to the other person to hear what we can respond to to make our point. That's what happens when we mostly think about what we will say while the other person is talking rather than hearing what they are saying. Still another way is "investigative listening." This is when we listen intently to what someone is saying but are trying to figure out what is underneath what they mean. What do they think? When we do this, it's often because we have an agenda to accomplish.

We all experience tough times in life. Even the strongest Christians cannot maintain a steady state of mental health. Often, we're resilient through challenges because of our natural support system and coping skills. Sometimes, though, we need professional help. When should you get professional help?

Stories and Testimonies

Is a loved one at risk?
Know the signs...

ADULT WARNING SIGNS

Risk is greater if behavior is new or has increased, and if it seems related to a painful event, loss, or change.

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

YOUTH WARNING SIGNS

Suicide can be prevented with proper intervention. It is time to take action if you notice these signs in family or friends.

  • Talking about or making plans for suicide.
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  • Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
  • Showing worrisome changes in behavior, particularly in combination with the warning signs above, including significant:
  • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
  • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context.
  • Recent increased agitation or irritability.

Find Resources & Help

National Resources

Below, you'll find a comprehensive list of many of the nationally available resources:

Mental Health America (MHA)

Provides a range of resources including screening tools and support through its website.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 988 for 24/7 support.

Crisis Text Line

Text "HOME" to 741741 for 24/7 crisis support.

SAMHSA's National Helpline

1-800-662-HELP (4357) for substance abuse and mental health referrals.

NAMI Helpline

1-800-950-NAMI (6264) for support, resources, and treatment options.

Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM)

Text "BEAM" to 741741 for support tailored to Black individuals.

Local Resources

Below, you'll find a comprehensive list of many of the regionally available resources:

San Francisco Suicide Prevention Hotline

Call 415-781-0500 for crisis intervention.

Bay Area Youth Helpline

Call 408-279-8228 for local mental health support.

Alameda County Crisis Support Services

Call 1-800-309-2131 for crisis support.

Contra Costa Crisis Center

Call 1-800-833-2900 for local crisis support.

Youth Resources

Below, you'll find a comprehensive list of many of the youth available resources:

California Youth Crisis Line

Call 1-800-843-5200 for youth crisis support.

California Peer-Run Warm Line

Call 1-855-845-7415 for non-emergency emotional support.

The Trevor Project

For LGBTQ youth; call 1-866-488-7386 or text "START" to 678678.

Boys Town National Hotline

Call 1-800-448-3000 or Text VOICE to 20121, a resource for teens and young adults to discuss problems including depression and suicide

Teen Line

Text "TEEN" to 839863 or call 800-852-8336 for teen-to-teen advice and support.