One of the best ways to help a friend in trouble—whether it is with emotional pain, grief, or mental health issues of any kind—is to sit down with them and let them tell you about it. I think the world is far too quick to criticize people for complaining about their problems or their pain. When someone stops what they’re doing to listen compassionately to your pain, you feel cared for and find healing.

Yes, some individuals seem to need a lot of attention. In such cases it might be wise to give them a friendly indication of how much time you can give them. An hour or half an hour might be appropriate, depending on their needs.

It’s sad, but true, that those with mental health issues are not listened to in the same way as others are. Often they’re not taken seriously.

Consider how frustrating that would be and how it would hurt when you have something really important to say that needs to be heard. To be heard means that your worth as a child of God is acknowledged. It allows you to be at peace, knowing that someone cares.

Listen to this true story:

A patient on a mental health ward was having a hard time, not able to cope. The staff couldn’t meet her needs. As a result she was placed in a seclusion room where she would have a chance to calm down and not hurt herself. The room was uncomfortable, only containing a mat and a stiff blanket. All her clothes were taken away.

At the end of the prescribed twenty-four hours, a doctor came in to assess her. He stood over her, looked down and asked how she was doing. The patient’s response was not good so the doctor did not deem her well enough to return to the ward.

Twenty-four hours later, another doctor came to see how she was. He sat down, joining her on the mat, speaking compassionately with her, listening to her, learning how she was. He treated her with respect. After some discussion she seemed to be doing better and the doctor allowed her to have her hospital clothes back. Soon she joined the other patients.

What struck me about this story was how very much like Jesus the second doctor was, humbly caring for his patient. He didn’t tower over her like the first doctor. He joined her at her own level.

When your friend is having emotional troubles, confused about their life and about the world, Jesus would meet them in such a caring way as well. In their struggles, feeling isolated, he sits with them and listens patiently as they search for the words they need to tell him what’s wrong. He stays close until they’re ready to face the world once more.

As followers of Christ, can we adopt a heart like his?

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12)


(I’m not a professional caregiver. Since 2006, I have given spiritual support as a peer to people living with all sorts of mental health issues. I write from the point of view of someone who has been there and understands—someone who wants to share the faith she has found in God.)

This has been Part 6 or the series In the Name of Jesus. Go to Part 7 at Helping the Lost.