World Mental Health Day is an international day dedicated to global mental health education, awareness and social stigma reduction. The theme for World Mental Health Day in 2022 is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World.’ Reflecting on the Covid-19 pandemic, advocates will emphasize how people with long-term health conditions, those living in low-income areas and those facing racial discrimination were disproportionately affected.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one out of every five American adults suffers from a mental illness. According to the World Health Organization, one in every eight people worldwide will suffer from mental illness. Many of us will experience mental health issues every year. There is evidence that certain groups, such as young women, are more vulnerable.
World Mental Health Day And The Church
Churches can be refuges in this battle against the pressures to be economically productive or superficially busy. They can be communities for transformation in a tired, worried culture and for anxious, fretful people. They can be safe places where people can access support and be directed to professional care too.
In additions, there are now great qualified practitioners who are leading the way on help and resources in the intersection of faith and mental health . Here are some of the best for you to connect with.
The Way Of Jesus
Sometimes mental health advice sounds a lot like the words of Jesus: spend time with those you care about; help others; share what’s going on in your life. As Jesus’ followers we can learn to hear His voice even in the darkest of times. We can be reminded that we are loved and can invite others into the wonder of the gospel too.
Facing Unique Challenges
However, mental illness can still be a highly stigmatized topic for many believers. Suicidal thoughts and the extreme despair that accompanies clinical depression can be difficult to understand for those who don’t experience these realities. Although many Christians have experienced anxiety or depression on occasion, people with a diagnosed mental illness face unique challenges.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.”
Mental illness is not a new phenomenon and the same biblical truths that have encouraged Christians for centuries can now be used to encourage those suffering from mental illness. Here are four scriptural truths that we can hold on to.
You Are Not Alone
Since the fall, God’s people have suffered mentally, emotionally, and physically. Even Christ, on the cross, cried out in despair “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
When we are in pain, we are not alone. Jesus promises that He will never leave us and be with us continually.
Speaking openly about your mental health problems with trained professionals allows us to gain the help and support we need. Eventually we may be able to help others to share their own struggles and comfort them too.
You Are Not To Blame
Though mental illness is a result of the fall, our affliction, like the man born blind (John 9:1-3), is not punishment for our sins or our parents’ sins. Mental illness may not be our fault, but it can be an opportunity for us to receive the grace of God we need to get through a difficult time.
Of course, sin and disconnection from God can aggravate mental illness and cause depression or anxiety. It is critical to have people lovingly point us to Christ and to the source of our healing. We can let the light of His love into our lives as we ask for His transforming grace.
God Sees You And Is Present With You
We have a personal Savior who has identifies with our suffering. We can remember Christ’s closeness as we suffer the effects of mental illness. He weeps with us just as He did with the family of Lazarus (John 11:32-35). He was aware of the resurrecting work He was about to perform but that didn’t stop Him grieving with the family of His friend. Similarly, He knows how He will work in and through our life and He is present with us in the midst of it.
God sent the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Counselor, to be with us and help us. The Holy Spirit prays for us. He cries out for us when we are unable to form words and can only make sounds of despair (Rom. 8:26-27).
Maintain your resolve, because there is great hope.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
We are all broken in our own unique ways, but Christ restores us to wholeness. He shines a light into the darkest recesses of our hearts and minds (2 Cor. 4:6). He rescues us from the deepest pit (Job 33:28) and one day He may use us to reach out to others (2 Cor. 4:7–10).
The Bible speaks to you
The Bible isn’t afraid to discuss mental and emotional anguish. Consider Job or the psalms of lament, which make up over fifty percent of the psalms. These are songs of people pleading with God:
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16
Even so, most lament psalms end on a positive note, reminding the reader of God’s faithfulness. We, like God’s people throughout history, frequently forget what He has already done for us and the promises He continues to keep.
Keep these truths somewhere you’ll see them often. Share them with a close friend, family member or accountability partner who can remind you when you forget or lack the energy or willpower to do so. Even on the darkest days, God’s word speaks to you.