I am by no means a mental health professional. I have only taken a couple of counselling courses and it is definitely not my strength. But you don’t have to be a professional to know something about mental health.
I think that the church has improved in its understanding of mental health to a certain extent. However, the stigma of mental illness still rears its ugly head. There are people who struggle with mental illness who do not see the church as a safe place. One way to change this situation is to educate on the truth about mental health.
Here are five things that we need know about mental health.
- Mental health is not an either/or situation between being mentally healthy and mentally ill. Mental health is a continuum on which we all move along. Our mental health can vary depending on a number of circumstances in any given period.
- Mental illness is not something that you can just wish away. Mental health should be seen much like physical health. It is something real and needs to be taken seriously. In many cases it requires medication, just as any physical ailment.
- Mental illness is not a monolithic category. People struggle with a number of mental illnesses. Depression is not the same as anxiety. Bipolar disorder is not the same as obsessive compulsive disorder. They should not be treat the same.
- While some mental illnesses have a strong situational component, others have nothing to do with what is happening on the outside. A person may seem to have the perfect life but because of chemical imbalances or other issues, they may be falling apart on the inside.
- Seeking help for mental illness, either through medication or counselling, is not a sign of weakness but rather strength. People should be encouraged to seek help and not be looked down at for accessing the help that is available.
I would encourage you to take the effort to learn more about mental health.