The pain of a physical wound is difficult. Think about the last time you smashed your toe on something, gave yourself a paper cut, or bruised yourself from some physical activity. But we have doctors who can actually see the problem, diagnosis it, and provide a remedy. We see the wound, accept their treatment plan, and follow through with it.
With mental health, we are not so lucky. You cannot always see the wounds and the treatment plans may not lead to healing as fast as you want.
Buzzfeed has a very pointed video where they flip the shame and stigma of mental and physical health. (Yes, that same Buzzfeed that comes up with Disney Princess quizzes and mind-numbing sketches.)
We even see this shame with celebrities, it has truly permeated our culture. Last year, Kid Cudi the musician, found himself struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. To give an explanation of what he was going through, he wrote on his Facebook page:
“Its been difficult for me to find the words to what Im about to share with you because I feel ashamed. Ashamed to be a leader and hero to so many while admitting I’ve been living a lie. It took me a while to get to this place of commitment, but it is something I have to do for myself, my family, my best friend/daughter and all of you, my fans…. My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember… Love and light to everyone who has love for me and I am sorry if I let anyone down. I really am sorry. Ill be back, stronger, better. Reborn. I feel like [expletive], I feel so ashamed. Im sorry.” -Kid Cudi
Church: What Can You Do?
People who struggle with mental health and substance abuse problems feel trapped. They are stuck in darkness without a light. Isn’t that the role of the Church?
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
– Matthew 5:14-16
Advocate in your local community.
“It’s amazing to me that any other organ in your body can break down and there’s no shame and stigma to it, but if your brain breaks down, you’re supposed to keep it a secret” – Rick WarrenDo you know what the mental health policies are in your community or where the funds are going? Even better, have you preached on the topic at your church or taken your mayor out to lunch and discussed their political views on it? Let those who struggle understand they are not alone and God loves them. Rick Warren says it best, “It’s amazing to me that any other organ in your body can break down and there’s no shame and stigma to it, but if your brain breaks down, you’re supposed to keep it a secret.”
Collaborate with other church leaders
Let’s go one step further, if you are part of a community of Christian leaders in your town, speak on this subject, collaborate, and serve. Educate those that do not understand. Hold debates with those who would like to discuss it further in the community. And write an article to ten for your local newspaper to talk about opportunities.
Serve with time, money, and space
Make it known to local homeless shelters you are praying for them and they are invited to come worship with you. Host a Celebrate Recovery or grief and loss group. Train volunteers in parenting classes that you can offer for free to your community.
What do you see your church doing to be more of a light in your community?