When someone in my life is struggling, how can I help?

When a friend, family member, or co-worker in our life is struggling with depression (or a similar struggle), it can be hard to know how to come alongside them. In our efforts to be helpful, we may say things that are not helpful. Or, if we don’t know what to say, we may withdraw completely.

As part of our interview with Cedric Dale Hoard a few weeks ago, I asked him about how  to come alongside those who are struggling. Check out his response.

We also have a few recommendations for those who might be struggling with depression or love someone who is:

Darkness is My Only CompanionDarkness is My Only Companion by Kathryn Greene-McCreight

“Where is God in the suffering of a mentally ill person? What happens to the soul when the mind is ill? How are Christians to respond to mental illness? In this brave and compassionate book, theologian and priest Kathryn Greene-McCreight confronts these difficult questions raised by her own mental illness–bipolar disorder. Greene-McCreight offers the reader everything from poignant and raw glimpses into the mind of a mentally ill person to practical and forthright advice for their friends, family, and clergy.”


Grace for the AfflictedGrace for the Afflicted by Matthew S. Stanford

“Why has the church struggled in ministering to those with mental illnesses? As both a church leader and a professor of psychology and behavioral sciences, Michael S. Stanford has seen far too many mentally ill brothers and sisters damaged by well-meaning believers who respond to them out of fear or misinformation rather than grace. Grace for the Afflicted is written to educate Christians about mental illness from both biblical and scientific perspectives. Stanford presents insights into our physical and spiritual nature and discusses the appropriate role of psychology and psychiatry in the life of the believer. Describing common mental disorders, Stanford probes what science says and what the Bible says about each illness.”


Troubled MindsTroubled Minds by Amy Simpson

“Mental illness is the sort of thing we don’t like to talk about. It doesn’t reduce nicely to simple solutions and happy outcomes. Statistics suggest that one in four people suffer from some kind of mental illness. And then there’s their friends and family members, who bear their own scars and anxious thoughts, and who see no safe place to talk about the impact of mental illness on their lives and their loved ones. In Troubled Minds Amy Simpson, whose family knows the trauma and bewilderment of mental illness, reminds us that people with mental illness are our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Christ, and she shows us the path to loving them well and becoming a church that loves God with whole hearts and whole souls.”

Blackhawk Care Team: The care team ministers to the spiritual, emotional, relational and physical needs of the Blackhawk community by offering hope, support and spiritual guidance. If you are facing difficulties or challenges, feeling overwhelmed or uncertain, our first response team can assist you in finding help within the church as well as within the broader Madison community. You can reach a Care Responder MondayThursday11 am–3 pm at or at 608-828-4230. Schedules may vary, so please feel free to leave a message.

About the Author: Craig Gartland
Craig is Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Blackhawk and oversees Adult Ministries. He completed his Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and spent over two decades of his career in campus ministry. He is married to Sharon and they have four children. His passions include cycling, listening to jazz music, photography, and the writings of C.S. Lewis.