Siler City church starting depression support group

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 6/21/19

SILER CITY — A few years ago, Josh Smith nearly lost his wife Amy to suicide.

Now, he and his church are starting a new ministry with the hopes that something similar doesn’t happen to anyone …

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Siler City church starting depression support group

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Posted

SILER CITY — A few years ago, Josh Smith nearly lost his wife Amy to suicide.

Now, he and his church are starting a new ministry with the hopes that something similar doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Community Baptist Church in Siler City is beginning “A Light in the Darkness,” a support group for individuals struggling with depression and anxiety and their family members. The group’s first meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 27 in the church’s fellowship hall at 2575 Hamp Stone Road, Siler City.

“A Light in the Darkness” is being termed officially as a “class,” but Smith, Community Baptist’s youth pastor, said it’s more about “giv(ing) people a place, to know there’s help, to know there’s hope, that they’re not alone.”

An estimated 17.3 million Americans aged 18 or older had at least one major depressive episode in 2017, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, representing 7.1 percent of all adults. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says anxiety disorders are the “most common mental illness in the U.S.,” with around 40 million adults suffering from some form of it. The ADAA added that nearly one-half of individuals diagnored with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

The 2018 Chatham County Community Assessment reported that 20.1 percent of Chatham adults have ever been told by a doctor they had anxiety or depression, and 33.6 percent of Chatham high school students said they had felt sad or hopeless almost every day for at a two-week stretch at least once in the last year. The assessment also said that 61 percent of Chatham adults surveyed said they didn’t know where to direct someone for mental health services.

It’s in that gap and into those situations where Community Baptist hopes to help. Smith said the group is not designed to replace medical help or professional counseling, but to simply provide a space and support. He also acknowledged that, while religious institutions can provide specific assistance in mental health situations, faith might not solve it.

“Not all of it is a spiritual deal,” he said. “There are different treatments for different people. Some people respond to one area of treatment for a disease than other people do. There are some folks that spiritual needs play into it, but for some, it’s an emotional baggage, or it’s a real physical problem.”

On that note, he stressed that the group isn’t set aside for a particular age group or religious faith.

“It’s just trying to help hurting people,” Smith said. “That is the ultimate goal.”

For more information on the group, contact Smith at josh.smith31@ymail.com or by phone at 919-770-4736.

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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