How should Christians deal with mental health issues?
Christians should deal with mental health issues by creating a culture of transparency, acceptance and education. We need to speak up against false narratives and stigmas that are perpetuated by leaders, media and peers. It is an issue that must be addressed boldly because it is a matter of life and death.
Why mental health is a matter of life and death
The words we choose when speaking of mental health matter greatly. They leave a lasting impact and can either further stigmas or shine light around a very misunderstood illness.
Stigmas kill the topic, leaving those who suffer to suffer in silence and not seek help. Sometimes they avoid medication to keep others from knowing or because taking medicine is frowned upon in their faith community.
Deal with it head-on
Stop sweeping the uncomfortable under the rug! Our comfort is killing us. Did you know that one in five American adults has a diagnosable mental disorder and one in 24 has a serious mental illness? That means if you aren’t the one, chances are high it’s someone you love and interact with daily. Your neighbor is hurting. Your brother or sister is suffering in silence and waiting for someone like you to simply say, “Can I hear your story?”
Start the conversation. Be brave. End the taboo.
Indifference toward mental illness comes from a position of privilege and makes you part of the problem. Christians are called to carry one another’s burdens, but if we’ve created a culture of shame, how are we to know they need carrying? By dealing with it head-on we transform our worship places away from shame and toward safe havens of truth.
Christians were called to champion mental health issues
You and I were called to speak up for those who do not have the strength to speak for themselves. Proverbs 31:8-9 (MSG) says, “Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!”
What does this look like?
To speak up for those who struggle with mental illness means to confront the stigma head-on.
- Correct the co-worker making jokes.
- Do not make excuses for those in leadership who make light of mental illness. Instead, hold them accountable for their words and demand they receive further education.
- Speak openly about the statistics that tell us those with mental illness are 10 times more likely to be the victims of violent crime and no more likely to enact violence than those without a mental health condition.
- Choose your own words wisely and seek out education on mental health issues that are brought to your attention.
- Weigh your vote, not on which candidate brings you personally the most comfort, but on who is taking action to provide better programs to address the needs of the one in five Americans struggling daily.
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