September 08, 2021
“Kumusta ka na?”
I’ve asked this question countless times, but the answers differ from student to student.
Mental health issues are real, and they became more real and apparent when the pandemic started last year.
This is especially true for students like you who are not allowed to go out of your homes, engage in outdoor recreational activities, or meet with your friends. Add to that the academic pressures and personal issues that have been taking a toll on your mental health.
You may know someone or it may be you who have struggled with depression and anxiety. The World Health Organization recognizes that depression may be the next pandemic that will affect the whole world. People who struggle with it may or may not exhibit more obvious signs, and because we don’t regularly meet each other, others may not immediately see what you’re struggling with.
So how do we know when someone is struggling?
Everybody is prone to experiencing depression and anxiety because our brain is susceptible to mental illnesses. Our brain’s health is affected by various things, including biological factors and social factors. That’s why it is best to understand that mental health-related challenges can happen to anyone.
With this mindset, we can be more objective as we relate with others and listen to their concerns and struggles, even if sometimes we feel like they’re saying the same thing over and over. This may actually be their way of saying “I need help.”
Also, knowing that it can happen to anyone could make us be more compassionate towards others. This will allow us to be patient with them, to not judge them based on their external behavior, and to listen when given the opportunity. These simple acts of kindness can turn a person’s life around.
This also applies to you. If you’re struggling with anxiety and depression, find people in your life whom you know will be able to help you go through it. You don’t have to go through it alone.
What do we do when we see signs of anxiety and depression?
Just follow this simple acronym to help them LIVE.
Listen. If you know someone who is reaching out for help, take the time to listen to them. Their concerns are important. If they’re contemplating suicide, you can let them know that you’re there for them. Listen to their concerns, process their thoughts, and help them identify what they’re going through.
Listening can help change a person’s life. Active listening helps them feel valuable and cared for. When someone listens to us with genuine care, it challenges the lies inside our heads that no one loves us or that we are not worth it. A psychiatrist shared that one patient fought for her life despite struggling with depression because she felt that someone genuinely cares for her.
. . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Intercede. Because we are human, there are a lot of things that are beyond our control. The good news is we can tap into God’s grace and power, and believe that He is more than able to heal a person’s heart. So let’s surrender our situation to Him in prayer and faith. He can give hope and strength to those who are struggling.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Value. Every person is valuable. We need to help remind them of their value and identity in God, and treat them according to that value. The voices of anxiety and depression may sound so loud in their current situation, but God’s love for them is stronger than any voice. Don’t give up reminding them of who they are in Christ.
Encourage. Encourage them to voice out their feelings, to take steps of faith to get help. A simple encouragement that celebrates their progress means a lot. When you’re deep into depression, it is hard to see how far you’ve come. A kind encouragement can remind them of how much they’ve overcome and how there are far greater things ahead of them. Encourage them to remember the promises of God and that His plans for each of us are still good, pleasing, and perfect.
However, we don’t always have the answers to people’s concerns. We can help others by encouraging them to get professional help. Self-diagnosis can be harmful and the goal is not just diagnosis, but to see them get well. Professional help will require parental consent, so you can help your friend when they get permission from their parents. Or you can encourage them to talk to your school’s guidance counselor, since they are equipped to help students like you.
Depression and anxiety are real problems, but we can be part of the solution by helping our friends and even ourselves to take a step of faith and reach out to someone today. May we always remember to listen to, intercede for, value, and encourage others to open up their hearts to the right people.
If you’re the one who’s struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts, please reach out to people and don’t isolate yourself. In isolation, our thoughts tend to be bombarded by negative things, which could worsen the situation. Reaching out to someone can help create accountability and build trust that you can process your thoughts and emotions with them.
If you ever need someone to talk to, send us a message. We’re here for you.