This week many people around the world are supporting mental health awareness. In recent years there has been a huge increase in awareness and understanding of mental health in our society. Yet there still seems to be a mark of shame associated with this topic. Why is this? If statistics show that in the last week at least one in six people wrestle with ill mental health, that means there are many people struggling with low self esteem, depressive thoughts and feelings. Not all wounds are visible but mental health illness needs to be treated as if it were an open wound. It takes time to fully heal. And this can be naturally, through prescribed medication, with the guidance and support of professional medical practitioners. The question we can ask ourselves is how we as a Church family help and support people who are struggling with their mental health? Doing nothing is not an option. But pointing people to the perfecter of faith and author is what we as followers of Christ can do.
For me, due to a childhood trauma I suffered many years with mental health. Many times I had fallen into a depressive state, battled with paranoia and anxiety. This had a huge impact on my self worth and identity. When I became a Christian, I began to understand my true identity through Christ and therefore everything changed. My life began to transform by the renewing of my mind through biblical truth.
Recently in the last trimester of my pregnancy I experienced a huge low and hit rock bottom. I began to experience blips of psychosis, sleep deprivation, anxious and intrusive thoughts. The best way I can describe this feeling is having withdrawal symptoms from class A drugs. Luckily for most people, they can’t relate. But during this time I knew I wasn’t alone, God was with me. The one thing that struck me the most was the incredible love and support of my husband, close friends and Church family. I had Church friends coming to check up on me daily, pray, cook dinner, share worship songs, send encouraging scripture, even someone came and cleaned the house! Isn’t this amazing? These are ordinary, simple things done by extraordinary people who have a heart to serve others. Therefore I was comfortable going to Church, regardless of how I felt as I had a support network of trusted friends around me. There was no stigma, judgment or shame attached. I recovered within a few weeks, praise God! So having this experience, I found the importance of reaching out, being open and helping others who are in need. Knowing that through faith, the Lord and his people there is help and most of all, hope.
If you struggle to relate or feel you’re not able to help. I strongly encourage you to pray, equip yourself, talk about it openly and ask for advice from others. There is countless scripture in the Bible that relate to different feelings, emotions and trials.
David writes in Psalm 43:5, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” I’m sure many of us can relate to this psalm during difficult times of our lives.
Below I’ve mentioned four ways to get you started:
Educate, learn and understand what mental illness is and develop a biblical understanding of this
Great online resources:
When God Seems Gone- Adam Mabry
Hope in an anxious world- Helen Thorne