October is Mental Health Month, though of course mental health is a year-round issue.
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.Psalm 42:11
Feeling blah has become more common since the pandemic. It seems that more and more of us are having moments when our mind and body is keenly aware of suffering and living in a fallen and broken world – it can be a struggle to navigate at times.
God is concerned for those struggling with their mental health. He is a God of extraordinary love and compassion and his heart goes out to those facing mental health challenges.
On Sunday October 1 and 8 we will be exploring some wisdom from the Bible’s song book, the Psalms, as we reflect on Psalm’s of lament and how the Christian faith offers rich resources for us as we navigate our mental health.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, it's important to seek professional help. Your GP is normally a good place to start.
The Mental Health & Pastoral Care Institute website mentalhealthinstitute.org.au has complied a helpful trove of resources for more information about the Christian faith and mental health.
Also helpful are:
This series, reminds us of God’s character – that he is a God who loves and reaches out, offering grace and words of life. As we rest in the truths of who he is, what he has done, what he promises to continue to provide, and the certainty of our hope, we will find rest and strength for our souls.
Come and See
This devotion series, was created to encourage you to ponder the loving deeds of the Lord, so that songs of joy and thankfulness bubble forth from within you. Remembering the character of God and the wonderful things he has done moves us to praise and thank our great God for who he is and what he has done.
The Mental Health Institute has put together 10 personal video interviews with carers, those living with mental illness, ministers and professionals, all aimed at addressing stigma and encouraging conversation around mental health within church communities.
Lord Jesus Christ, you have experienced the pain and loneliness of life in this fallen world, with all its disappointments and grief. Thank you that we may come confidently to your throne of grace, assured that your mercy and grace are available to us in our times of need. When it is hard to understand, help us to trust you; when we feel the pain of rejection, in your unchanging love draw near; when we are overtaken by doubts and fears, may we then prove your abiding presence. Prince of peace, give to us the peace of God to guard our hearts and minds through your risen power. Amen.
Sourced from David Short & David Searle, Pastoral Visitation: A Pocket Manual, p. 63
10 Tips To Support Someone With Mental Health
Written by Keith and Sarah Connie. Full article available here.
- Ask how they are feeling: Often when people are experiencing difficulty, others know about it, but say nothing. This simple question communicates care.
- Listen to what they say: Put your phone away and put your focus completely upon the other person. Let them tell you how it is and use non-verbal cues to show you are fully present. Don’t start talking about yourself, but try to reflect back what they are saying in different words to let them know you are tuned in.Listening is an act of love because it focuses on the other. James commands us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). When interacting
with those struggling with mental health, listening can be a first step in moving forward.
- Be a safe person for them: It’s okay to say, “Tell me more,” but don’t push them to share more than they want. Let them go at their own pace. It takes courage and trust for them to open up. Such trust is earned through gentleness and kindness.
- Check that they are safe: You do no harm by asking, “Are you thinking about taking your life?” Asking this question shows you care and will decrease their risk.
- Seek professional help if needed: Ask them if they have seen their GP. If they haven’t, encourage them to do this and offer to help them. If you feel out of your depth, ask for help.
- Ask if you can read God’s word and pray: They need hope. They need to be reminded that they have a God who is sovereign, all loving, all caring, all seeing and knowing and that He can hear their silent groans in that tunnel and is with them. Ask them if you can read a couple of verses from the bible with them – share something that has recently encouraged you as a start, or a few verses from Psalms, and then ask if you can pray. Focus on who God is and how much he loves them and what he has graciously done for them. They need God’s word of comfort and consolation.
- Encourage wise behaviour: Good habits of exercise, diet and sleep promote wellbeing. Another good habit is thankfulness. Give them a nice blank book and suggest they think of three things every day they are thankful to God for and to write them down. They might find this hard to do, but over time, this will help them begin to notice the positives in their life. Encourage them to connect with others – at church or in their local community – and to do things they enjoy.
- Follow them up: Offer to meet up for a coffee or for a walk in a park to find out how they are getting along. It’s easy for them to think that no one could be bothered to spend time with them.
- Put appropriate boundaries in place: Personal boundaries help define our identity. When we have a clear sense of our values, beliefs, abilities, needs, feelings, etc, we know who we are and are able to make choices that are helpful for us and for others.Good boundaries enable us to love others better because rather than operating from our insecurities (such as a “need to be needed”) and blind spots we can consider what is truly in the best interests of the other. They are good for us; good for them.Love is not the same as being nice. Love acts in the best interests of the other – will say ‘no’ when necessary.Appropriate boundaries will involve thinking carefully about how often we respond to texts or meet up, or the type and amount of practical assistance we provide. It is not loving to enable selfish, irresponsible or overly dependent behaviour.These are matters that require wisdom, which is worth praying for (James 1:5)!
- Take care of yourself: Caring for another carries a physical and emotional cost. You care for your own wellbeing not to be selfish, but to enable you to continue to love others.