Evangelical Christian blogger and psychiatrist Adrian Warnock has been doing a series of blog posts about mental illness since news broke in April about the the death of Rick Warren's son. The young man had suffered with mental illness for many years and took his own life as a result. I've finally gotten around to reading the work that Warnock has posted thus far and I find myself very moved by it. The first post asks a question that I think has a pretty obvious answer but that nonetheless gives Christians endless grief, Can a Christian get depressed? The answer is obviously yes. But as is pointed out in the post we get wrapped up in arguing about whether Christians should get depressed. That focus then warps what Christians think they are supposed to do about depression. I've been told that I should have been able to pray myself out of my depression. Given after I had my gotten my depression under control such advice was merely a nuisance. Had I received it at any time before I had gotten my depression under control I can't imagine how it would have helped. It has been my experience that that sort of approach to depression, and other mental illnesses, leaves people who need the support of their church family out in the cold.
Warnock's approach to the subject matter as a clinician working on a Christian foundation is refreshing. Not enough Christians evidence a strong understanding of the subtleties of mental health. I wish someone would have followed the advice Warnock gives here and here with me years ago. Thankfully I ended up getting the help I needed thanks in large part to God's good grace, and probably the prayers of my good Christian brothers and sisters who may have realized that something was wrong but didn't know what else to do. If you've been wondering what to do for someone in your life with concerning mental health issues I would recommend reading the posts in Warnock's series.