Sometimes life can seem like a game of mental health snakes and ladders – people going up, people going down, people passing by, people going somewhere, people going nowhere. You can be sure that this is everyone you meet, past, present and future in this stressful world.
- ‘Mental health is a continuum, and people may fall anywhere on the spectrum. You certainly can't prevent all mental health problems - factors like genetics and traumatic life events certainly play a role. But everyone can take steps to improve their mental health and prevent further mental illness’ – Amy Morin
- ‘There isn't anybody out there who doesn't have a mental health issue, whether it's depression, anxiety, or how to cope with relationships. Having OCD is not an embarrassment anymore - for me. Just know that there is help and your life could be better if you go out and seek the help’ – Howie Mandel
- ‘People take the mickey out of mental health, but it is very delicate’ - Frank Bruno
The mind is amazingly powerful and yet fragile at the same time – humans are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ in the image of God. Whilst capable of great intellectual, creative and emotional strength, there are ‘tipping points’ which come to every person and challenge the very essence of who they are. It all seems to be going along pretty well and then comes the bereavement, the impulsive moment of moral weakness, the unwelcome news of illness, the anxiety attacks, the deep inner doubts and things can start to fall apart. It may not be obvious to others at first but someone entering the mental health black hole knows when an unravelling has begun within.
- ‘I'm always going to have to manage my mental health issues’ – James Arthur
- ‘Mental health isn't all of me, but it's a massive part of my journey and a massive part of my whole being’ – Adwoa Aboah
Diane Abbott wants more people to talk about this in the public domain describing it as being ‘critical to wellbeing’. Mental Health is the topic, along with death, that no one has wanted to talk about in the past but now the boycott is lifting as courageous public figures have started to tell their stories. The British Royal family has given exposure to this along with many celebrities from the world of sport and entertainment – the examples are all too numerous.
- ‘Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It's the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with’ – Adam Ant
- ‘We need to change the culture of this topic and make it OK to speak about mental health and suicide’ – Luke Richardson
- ‘Mental health can be just as important as physical health - and major depression is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses’ – Michael Greger
Sadly, too many who pass through a turbulent time of imbalance are unable to come through and lives get wasted or lost. As the inner turmoil increases, so the superficial cracks in ‘normal’ life become deeper and the damaged person becomes dysfunctional, relationships are ruined and self-esteem is shattered.
- ‘The mental health conversation is very important to me. I have friends that struggle with various mental illnesses. I've struggled with depression and anxiety. I'm very interested in how we deal with that’ – Matthew Quick
- ‘I believe the biggest stigma right now, with mental health, is that a lot of men are not talking about it’ – Mauro Ranallo
- ‘A child's mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support. Change the way we all talk to each other about our mental health’ – Kate Middleton
What does the Bible have to contribute to this vital area of well-being that impacts every age, gender, race and socio-economic group? For sure, God’s Word speaks eloquently, poignantly and honestly into the trauma of the human soul in crisis. This was recognised by a distinguished American scientist Bruce Lipton who abandoned his lifelong atheism and came to believe that the way cells functioned demonstrated the existence of God. He said:
- ‘We are made in the image of God, and we need to put Spirit back into the equation when we want to improve our physical and our mental health’
In both the Old and New Testaments, we find real people suffering mental anguish – Daniel, Jeremiah, Job, writers of the Psalms and even the Lord himself.
- ‘My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?’ – Psalm 6:3
- ‘If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales!’ – Job 6:2
- ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?’ – Psalm 22:1
- ‘And being in anguish, Jesus prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground’ – Luke 22:44
There is something about being a human that makes us vulnerable to depression, breakdown and desperate thoughts when facing mental anguish caused by those various ‘tipping points’.
- ‘Elijah came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” ‘ – 1 Kings 19:4
Job had little time for ‘miserable comforters’ who lack empathy, understanding or experience. When in mental anguish, we can only take seriously the One who is ‘acquainted with grief’, the despised ‘Man of Sorrows’ who not only enters into our suffering but will walk with us through the dark valley so that we can lean on him. The Good Shepherd has his staff to rescue and his club to protect from the monsters lurking in the dark – he knows the way we should take.
- ‘For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin’ – Hebrews 4:15
- ‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it’ - 1 Corinthians 10:13
Our High Priest knows what has caused your mental anguish. Not only can he fully restore you, giving you the strength you need for now but he gives a firm and secure hope anchored to bring you through. Jesus Christ is the ultimate anchor man as you make your way through this life to the higher ground.
- ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek’ – Hebrews 6:19-20
When we realise that Jesus gave his life blood for us to ‘come alive’ to God as our Father, we find our true identity is that of a ‘child of God’ with complete security in his loving plans for us. This truth is something that will be ‘under attack’ until we are with him so we need to remind ourselves of these truths in times of fair weather and of mental anguish.
- ‘I see taking care of my emotional and mental health in the same way that I see taking care of a garment: After it's been through wear and tear, it needs attention’ – Gina Barreca
- ‘You can never turn the clock back and, since we're talking about mental health, I would stress that’ - Peter Shilton
- ‘I think it's really important for your mental health to think about the big questions, to discuss them and open your mind, in order to prepare you for both life and death’ – Freddie Stroma
‘Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge’ – Psalm 62:5-8
TAGS - mental health, desperation, help, hope, weakness