“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind”
2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Mental health. Such a widely discussed topic for something that still carries a certain taboo. I, personally, have never understood the nature of keeping mental health out of the conversation. We expect at some point that our physical health may need looking after, but we expect perfection from our mind? The part of our body that has to deal with the most information; that has to deal with trauma, past experiences and so many different neuro-chemicals that scientists are still exploring their interactions? And as soon as there is a problem, we hide it away, perhaps because we will no longer be able to manage the expectation from others or even ourselves, of ‘having it all together.’
In this generation, we have such a skewed perception of reality around us, we can so easily access people’s lives and see them through filters that hide any imperfections. Then, when we feel we do not match up to this ‘perfection’ we end up casting shame upon ourselves. We create this invisible prison, turn all the lights out and barricade the door so no one can get close and see our unfiltered reality. The result? We are alone and we are in the dark.
We need to stop this process and change our view of mental health. We need to be confident that there is no cause for shame, and there is healing. The restoration of your mental health can happen on earth, it can take place in the arms of Jesus right where you stand, right in the middle of the darkness He brings His light. With Him there is hope and there is freedom.
So let the light in! Here are 5 practical ways to begin your journey:
The way we think about mental health is so important, mental health is a spectrum, not a category, so we are all on there somewhere. There is no shame wherever you are on this spectrum, but the first fight of the battle is to sit back, identify and accept where you are, be honest with yourself and be honest with God. The funny thing is that God already knows! We are the ones still coming to terms with it.
2) Spot the lie
Sadly, there are many lies that still surround mental health in some Christian spheres, here are some examples;
“My mental health battle is a result of my own sin”
“I cannot tell anyone in church about my mental health or they will think less of me”
“I am the only person who is dealing with this, everyone else has their lives together”
And many more thoughts that can linger in our minds and hinder our steps towards freedom, they hinder our journey because when we have bought into these lies, we are not living in the truth. Right where you are, take some time to ask God, “Are there any lies I am believing about myself or my mental health?” And see what He shows you.
3) Remember what God says about you
2 Timothy 1:7 is very clear about what God says about you. He has given you a “sound mind”, to God you are not crazy, you do not need to fear your own mind, but you may need a fresh revelation about what He says about you. Today, ask God, “What do you say about me?” and make sure you write down what He says to you. You can look back on this when you feel any negativity about yourself.
4) Have a holistic approach
You are a WHOLE person. It has been found that mental health can be affected by a combination of psychological, biological and environmental factors. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Your mind is unique to you, your past experiences are unique to you as is your perspective.
This part is super practical, you need to explore your options! You can talk with your doctor to explore the possible biological factors that may be affecting you, talk with a trusted friend about any environmental factors, look into getting some counselling or Christian counselling to explore any psychological factors.
Ask yourself questions, such as, “Am I getting enough sleep? Do I get enough nutrients from the foods I am eating? Is there anything in my spiritual life I need to work through? Am I in a constantly distressing situation? Are there things from my past that I haven’t worked through? Are there unhealthy relationships in my life I need to distance myself from?” Answer honestly and begin to practically step towards your freedom.
5) Hold on to hope!
The last point, but perhaps one of the most important things to remember in your mental health journey is to hold on to hope! God has given us so many promises full of hope through His word, we need to grasp on to these nuggets of gold and remember that He is your heavenly Father and He will be with you every step of the way.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
Mercy UK is a charity which works to bring hope and transform lives, here, the conversation about mental health is brought straight into the light. We encourage our residents and the individuals we support to be open about what they are facing. Mercy UK works to supports individuals in various ways, from a support phone line, to a residential programme for women aged 18-30, to a discipleship course for all individuals called Keys to freedom. Mercy UK also educates, equips and empowers the local church in helping individuals who are broken and hurting. For more information or support please visit www.mercyuk.org or call 01535 642042.