When God created the heavens, the earth, and everything in them, He declared them to be tov” (טוב) good. This was not good in a moral sense but harmonious and in order according to God’s intended design and purpose. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good…”Genesis 1.31 CJB
Everything was functioning as it should until sin entered. God brought order to the chaos and sin reverted them to a chaotic state, this includes our health and well-being.
It is God’s will that we experience good mental health. “Dear friend, I am praying that everything prospers with you and that you be in good health, as I know you are prospering spiritually.” 3 John 1:2 CBJ
What is Mental Health?
Mental health relates to the health of our minds, and the overall well-being and functioning of a person’s emotional, psychological, and social aspects of life. It is a state of emotional and psychological balance that allows individuals to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, build and maintain positive relationships, and contribute to their communities.
The Biblical Perspective on Mental Health:
The Bible reveals several individuals in various biblical narratives who faced emotional and psychological struggles. The Psalms of lament, the experiences of prophets like Elijah and Jonah, and Jesus’ interactions with the brokenhearted all demonstrate the recognition of human emotional pain and the compassionate response of God. Understanding these narratives helps us recognise that faith does not exempt us from mental health challenges but offers comfort, hope, and a safe space to express our struggles.
Faith plays a significant role in promoting mental health. It provides a source of strength, hope, and resilience in the face of challenges. Spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, and engaging with the scriptures can offer solace, comfort, and a sense of purpose. Faith communities can provide social support, a sense of belonging, and opportunities for connection and service, which are vital for mental health. Faith encourages individuals to find meaning in their struggles and embrace the healing power of God’s love.
Addressing Mental Health in the Church:
The church has a crucial role in addressing mental health and creating a supportive environment. It is essential for church communities to cultivate an atmosphere of acceptance, understanding, and compassion. Mental health awareness, education, and resources should be integrated into the church’s ministries.
Collaboration with mental health professionals can enhance the church’s capacity to support individuals facing mental health challenges.
Churches can actively foster a culture of compassion and care by providing support groups, pastoral counseling, and intentional community practices. Nurturing an environment where individuals feel safe to share their struggles and seek support is vital for promoting mental and spiritual well-being.
Breaking the Stigma:
The stigma surrounding mental health remains a significant barrier to seeking help and support. Within faith communities, it is important to break the stigma associated with mental health by fostering understanding, empathy, and acceptance. Sharing personal stories of individuals who have experienced mental health challenges and found healing can help combat stigma and promote open dialogue. Recognising the value of professional help is crucial because mental health professionals are equipped with the knowledge and skills to provide appropriate support and interventions. Encouraging individuals to seek professional help when needed and providing information about local mental health services is essential for holistic care.
Until Christ’s return, challenges like poor mental health remain with us. We, however, are not alone, the Comforter is with us.