Depression is not the boogeyman …

There was a huge response to the recent tragic death of comedian Robin Williams. From that sad event came a deluge of discussions across media sources (social and otherwise) about the reality and severity of depression.

It was good that we had some honest and brutally vulnerable discussions about depression and other such maladies so many face today. I purposely waited for some of the discussion to die down so that some of the raw emotion involved could have time to abate. Now that it has, let me offer a word of encouragement:

Depression is not the boogeyman.

What I mean by that is … yes, depression and other issues are very real, and as painful and harsh as so many volunteered to describe from their personal experiences, but there’s some good news out there regarding facing such issues. That good news is that competent counselors routinely have great success helping clients deal with and/or overcome such issues. There is a hefty volume of reputable research showing that cognitive-behavioral therapy and other treatments available through competent therapists can have a dramatically positive impact on the lives of people who suffer from depression, anxiety, stress, PTSD, and other issues.

I waited for some of the discussion to die down because there was a lot of open emotion being communicated, and I appreciate how that has helped others understand the pain and difficulty so many have, and do, experience in their struggles with depression and other problems. But the good news is that you can get help for these issues, and more often than not, that help usually renders very good results for those who really want to experience change. It isn’t easy, and it requires very real work by those who are willing to engage a competent counselor, but I want to encourage you that there is much that can be done to change and radically improve lives.

But we don’t often hear about that!

Instead, depression and other issues are more often described as being the “boogeyman” who pursues and ravages lives without any hope of rescue. We hear the horror stories, but we don’t hear about how most of these experiences could be avoided with competent, professional help. The onslaught of tragic stories told one after another after another are terrible, but the truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way!

If that’s true, why don’t we hear more stories about changed lives? There are a couple of reasons.

First, many who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other issues often don’t seek out professional help, for various reasons. Sometimes when they do, they connect with therapists who are not competent, and such experiences can be both negative and detrimental.

The other reason is that so many facing these issues cannot afford to access professional help. Resolving that issue is more than a social and cultural discussion, it is a personal one as well. Let me give you a brutally frank example. In more than three decades of clinical counseling, I’ve had very good success at helping my clients overcome a host of issues, including depression. To maximize access to such care, I have been working on raising the necessary funding for the Scott Free Clinic, a new ministry which will provide competent care without the barrier of cost … in other words, free services for everyone. The response to the vision and mission of this ministry has been massive … as far as people wanting services or pastors needing to refer people for professional help. But so far we’ve had a real failure in getting people to think, “Hey, I can donate toward making this happen.” We want the services, but not many are yet willing to contribute in any significant way to make such vital resources available to the public. I’m not going to use this issue as a commercial for the Scott Free Clinic; if you’d like to learn more about it, or how you could help, you can watch our videoon our website here and here.

Tragic stories like that of Robin Williams should motivate us to communicate, loudly and broadly, that there is help for the hurting, and that we implore you to get the help you need! You do not have to suffer in silence. You do not have to hurt alone. And you do not have to be hopeless. There is real help available IF you’re willing to pursue it AND if you’re willing to do the work you will have to do to become an overcomer and be set free from your suffering.

Such stories should also challenge the rest of us who don’t personally struggle with such issues to have enough compassion on those who do to help make available to them the professional help needed to see lives changed and set free. That means digging deep into our pockets. It might even mean tapping into our savings. It should mean doing something if you’re able, and there are many ways you can help those in need to gain access to the professional services that could change their lives.

Isn’t it time we change the discussion to what we’re willing to do to change things so that we’re hearing more and more stories of transformed lives and fewer stories of personal tragedy? If competent professional help really makes a radical difference in lives — and the research shows it does — then why don’t we work together in making that help available to the masses?