The church has a special role to play with regard to mental illness. Allow me to rephrase!
YOU AND I, WE HAVE A SPECIAL ROLE TO PLAY WITH REGARD TO MENTAL ILLNESS.
I would like to believe that the example Christ gave us when he lived on earth should be the standard by which we live. He spent his whole life living among the normal average people. During his three years in ministry, Christ reached out to the brokenhearted, the worn-out and oppressed.
No one was too far from his reach and too unworthy to receive mercy, love and grace from this man. Something else stood out for me, he cared about people with mental illness. He said,
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3
When discussing mental health, a large majority - I regret to admit that I am among that majority – they shy away from the topic. It is a natural human response to run away or throw under the rug something that we cannot fully explain or comprehend especially for a person who has not experienced it.
Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, the reality of mental health issues is there. With this Corona Virus pandemic, there are heightened levels of fear, worry and concern in the population at large and among certain groups in particular, such as older adults, care providers and people with underlying health conditions. Most people can attest to these high levels of stress or anxiety.
A report published by Priya Chidambaram reported a few things we all should think about and address.
1.Students depending on school services such as meal programs and physical, social, and mental health services will be impacted. Mental health issues may increase among students due to fewer opportunities to engage with peers. The pandemic may be exacerbated among adolescents with existing mental illness.
2.Older adults were less likely than adults ages 18 to 64 to report that worry or stress related to the coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health
3.Research also shows that job loss is associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem; and may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder. Additionally, as unemployment rises and a recession nears, suicides may increase.
4.A recent study examined the mental health outcomes of health care providers working in China during the coronavirus outbreak. They found that that provider reported feelings of depression, anxiety, and overall psychological burden. This experience was particularly acute among nurses, women, and providers directly involved in diagnosing and treating patients with COVID-19.
We have power in the tongue and during this crisis, Christ requires us to be the light to others by how we speak. That includes us reaching out to people around us with messages of encouragement.
It does not have to be a long message, it can be as simple as, “You are not alone, I am here for you” or “Hi, I just wanted to let you know that I am proud of you”
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Just that simple message can mean a great deal to someone who is struggling right now. Thereafter, take some time and pray for people around you. Our hope is Jesus Christ who asks us to cast all our anxieties to him because he cares (1 Peter 5:7). He cares about each and every one us you, and for sure he cares about your mental health!
We are earnestly praying for anyone who is struggling, that they will know that they are not alone and wherever they are, experience Christs love.