The Mental Health Friendly Church
It seems that God is uncovering a hidden area in our churches; physical wounds and illness are easily visible, but not so for mental illness and spiritual wounds. Mental health problems are growing in our society and our churches will reflect that.
In times of crises people often turn to the church, whether they have personal or family problems, and they may often struggle to access treatment through conventional channels. We can help in supporting those in need, but to do this we will need to have a basic understanding of mental health issues.
Many of the characters we know in the bible suffered from what we understand now as depression, anxiety, o.c.d. etc.
What message does the bible teach, what would Jesus say?
How can we as a church take a ‘whole person approach’?
WHAT IS A MENTAL HEALTH FRIENDLY CHURCH?
A place where people who have struggles are not seen as weak, not seen as sinful, not seen as lacking in faith.
A place where there is no stigma to being fully human.
It is crucial that the church draws all people into a place of genuine transparent relationship with God, each other and self.
Our basic needs are to be loved and to matter.
How do we do this?
To have a statement of beliefs that declares that all people matter to God.
To have a culture of valuing all people.
To understand that church is more than just Sundays - small groups and prayer can support hurting people.
Helping people feel they belong whether or not they actually take part.
Accepting people, and being kind and caring - even when they are difficult and unlovable.
Always having a sense of welcome, and flexibility.
Being good listeners, not always rushing in with advice.
Helping in need, emails, phone calls.
To recognize that many times there are no quick fixes; to be patient, understanding and loving.
Being brave enough to be honest and vulnerable ourselves.
To live in the comfort that God offers
‘Even though the night is so dark that God cannot be seen or heard.
It is a fearful thing to walk through the darkness, but God is present in the midst of it’.