Talk to me...

About ten years ago Britons used to scorn our therapy loving neighbours across the pond. Famous for our stiff upper lip and British reserve, the values and benefits of talking appear to have eluded entire generations. However, recent report by Future Foundation found that 83% of adults have had or would consider therapy.

Although I am not sure what has changed to bring us more in line with our American counterparts, I am encouraged that we are finally getting real about the issues that we face. It is especially important that, with a suggested 26% increase in people suffering from Mental Health issues in 2010, people are seeking help early.

I am left wondering if our churches are prepared for the deluge of new emotional issues arising as a direct result of our economic crisis. I was saddened again this week to receive two correspondences from people struggling with anxiety and depression who had been told by their churches that they were falling into sin. It continues to disturb me that some Christian leaders find it so easy to condemn people suffering from mental illness whilst completely failing to offer them any appropriate support. If we are to truly express the love and healing power of Jesus during this time of social turbulence we must overcome a childish prejudice towards mental health. Mental disturbance is not a bootstraps issue of discipleship, you cannot instruct a person suffering for a mental health issue just to 'Stop it' and be obedient.

One of the things that continually moves me about Jesus was the way in which he validates those who were suffering illness, he never humiliated or condemned them. In a culture that was hugely suspicious of illness, Jesus loved the individual and saw the illness for what it was. Far to often people suffering from emotional distress feel humiliated by the churches inability to see mental illness aside from personhood. Of course humiliation leads to with drawl and with drawl leads to isolation and isolation leads to depression. We must reverse the spiral offering validation not humiliation, community not isolation and hope not depression. God give us the wisdom... talk to me...

 

Will Van Der Hart, 15/06/2009