I have been involved here and there in the youth ministries at my church and have formed a few really good relationships with some senior high and junior high girls. One of the girls that I have gotten to know pretty well is struggling with depression. She talked to her parents about it this last winter and they started by getting her some supplements (St. John’s wart and the like). Since then she’s kind of been off and on herself. Sometimes she seems fine and sometimes I get the impression that she’s not fine. She isn’t great at opening up, so it usually takes some point blank questions from me to find out how she is.
This week I got a phone call from her dad (whom my husband and I know at least on a “friendly” basis–we’ve spent time with their family, but I wouldn’t really say that we’re “friends”). He asked me how she was doing because he and his wife were worried about her at home. She wasn’t talking AT ALL and they couldn’t get her to open up. I told him my honest opinion–that I thought she was doing okay and just working through a couple of things. Later that night, I questioned her more and she admitted to me that she is doing far worse than she is letting on to anyone. While I am not concerned about her immediate welfare at this point, I know that depression, especially untreated, can spiral out of control quickly. I called her dad the next day to give him my changed opinion. I then let her know later that day that I was not trying to betray any confidences, but that I was truly concerned about her and had called her dad.
So here is where I need help: she honestly seemed relieved that I had made the phone call, but has since said (it as been two days) that things are really awkward for her at home because her parents aren’t mentioning it to her. In fact, she said they don’t seem to be going out of their way to even make sure she’s okay (of course, depression can alter our impressions, but the fact remains that they haven’t talked to her about it). My heart is breaking for her. To me, one of the worst things about depression is isolation. When I have struggled with feeling depressed in the past, I desperately wanted those closest to me to reach out and try to get me help.
Do I take any more steps? I am becoming more worried each day that if no one reaches out to her, she’ll try something more dramatic to get their attention. I may be over-reacting, but I’d rather err on the side of caution in this case. Should I call her mom next? Call the dad again? Sheesh…can I take her to a counselor myself?! Does anyone have a gut reaction on this or some experience? Help!