I had a friend who would sometimes say, "I need a mental health day!" and would take a day off from work. I commend her for recognizing when she needs to take time for herself. Not everyone has the privilege of being able to do that, but for those who can it's a good practice.
I'm not saying this will cure mental illnesses. Of course it won't. In many cases, medication and/or therapy will be necessary. But for those who do not have a diagnosed mental illness, taking time for yourself is a good preventative measure.
Here at Trinity we've just started reading "Blessed Are the Crazy" by Sarah Griffith Lund. Many were put off by the title because it seems to support the stigma that people with mental illnesses are "crazy." We all agreed they are not. They have a physical illness like cancer or diabetes. But mental illnesses are very complex and they affect people's mood and demeanor. That's why it's so hard NOT to label them as "crazy" or "weird."
But they are not. They are God's children and they have an illness which means they need help, and they need compassion.
I was impressed and deeply moved by how bravely several individuals shared their own history with mental illnesses. This I believe is where we need to begin: by talking about it. By learning about people's experiences and recognizing the immense suffering they go through. The shame that's associated with it. How it can be incredibly isolating when you feel misunderstood.
We talked about what helped them through it, and the support of family and friends was mentioned.
That's where we as people of faith come in: we can support individuals with mental illnesses by listening, being patient and compassionate.
More and more people are dealing with anxiety and depression. More and more young people! This is an epidemic that we cannot ignore.
There's so much more to this: Our mental health care system, for example. Anyone who has had to deal with it could tell story after story about how frustrating it is to find help.
But for now, let's start talking about mental illnesses. Let's start talking about our own struggles and where we find hope and healing.
For more information on mental illnesses, check out this link: