What can clergy do?

Depending on the situation of the person involved, if you determine that they may be suffering from depression, you can advise seeking contact with their general practitioner. They may prefer going directly to a specialised doctor, such as a psychiatrist. In your position, you can encourage people to seek an assessment in order to ensure appropriate treatment.

As a member of the clergy, it is of course neither your task nor responsibility to deliver treatment. However, you can have a crucial role in exploring whether professional help is something that the person needs and will benefit from. The support you convey is of the utmost importance: being able to confide to a trusted person is invaluable.

Depression treatment

Being able to inform people about treatment basics can be useful.

The most important pillars of the treatment for depression are antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. There are other options for specific types of depression (e.g. light therapy for seasonal affective disorder) or people who are resistant to regular treatment (e.g. electroconvulsive therapy) as well as additional options from different areas (sport, creative activities, diet etc.).

Often the best solution will be a combination of several therapy options.

Referral for medical care

If you think you recognise a depressive disorder, as a member of the clergy you are now in a position to refer the person to medical care where assessment and eventual treatment will occur.

Therefore, it would be useful to know the primary care resources and also mental health care services, near your church.

In this case you will be able to advise the person and/or family directly where to go for appropriate help.