Mental Health Awareness Month
By: Rick Robledo
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and a perfect time to remind us that the Lord desires to be invited into every part of our lives, in our spiritual health, and also our physical and mental health as well. Jesus is with us not only in the joyful times of our lives, but especially during the times when we struggle and go through trials and pain. In the Book of John, chapter 16, verse 33, Jesus tells us that in this world we will experience times of suffering. It should therefore come as no surprise to us when difficult times arise.
The world is a fallen world. It is broken and all of creation longs for the day when it will join with the children of God in being set free from death and decay (Romans 8). Because of the Fall of Mankind through Adam and Eve, our bodies will experience various diseases and ultimately death. That is not to say that all of our illnesses are caused by personal sin; however, all illness is the result of living in a cursed world. Just as our physical bodies can suffer with sickness, our mental health can suffer as well. And just as our physical bodies need to receive proper care and treatment, we also need to properly care for our mental health.
Sadly however, when it comes to our mental health, we can be reluctant to seek help and support. Perhaps you feel embarrassed that you are struggling mentally and feel that you can deal with it on your own. As a Christian you may have a feeling of guilt that you are struggling with depression or anxiety, which in turn can further deteriorate our mental wellbeing.
Mental health is very complex and not fully understood even by medical professionals. It can both stem from and affect our spiritual and physical lives. Sometimes our own sin causes a decline in our mental stability. Sin affects our mental health because it gives us a wrong view of ourselves and of God. Sin leads to a broken relationship with God which undoubtedly causes uncertainty within our mind and emotions. In other instances, problems with our mental health can be caused by someone else’s sin toward us, such as with child abuse, physical or emotional abuse and other such traumatic events.
Often, mental illness is caused not by any particular sin but rather by purely physical factors such as hormonal or chemical imbalances within our bodies, brain trauma or abnormalities, or other physical and neurological impairments. Furthermore, a poor diet, lack of exercise, or inadequate sleep can affect us mentally. Consequently, mental health is quite complex, and so is managing our mental health.
When God created human beings, he created us with a body and a spirit. It is essential that we care for both. As with any illness, whether physical or mental, we should always present our trials to the Lord. He already knows the battle you are in and He is already standing in our defense to fight the enemy. Seek Him in prayer, ask Him to show you if there is any sin in your life that you need to repent of. Trust that He is faithful to forgive you when you confess to Him (1 John 1:19). We should remember, though, that a mental health issue may not be due to a sin and it is wise to seek out professional medical help, as we would with any other physical illness. You should feel no shame in receiving professional help. Talk with your doctor about your issues. Seek out counseling from professional Christian therapists. At Shepherd Church we have resources and trusted counselors that we can refer you to.
Just as we seek to support those with physical illnesses, we need to have compassion and offer support to those who are suffering with a mental health issue. We first looked at John 16:33 which tells us that we will have trouble in this world. But as we read the entire verse, we are told to be encouraged by the fact that Christ has overcome the world! Whatever you might be going through, whether a physical or mental health struggle, the Lord is with you and will guide you through the trials of life.
For more information and resources on mental health, please visit our resource page at shepherdchurch.com/renew, or feel free to contact me at the church office.
Rick Robledo is a pastor on staff at our church and is on the Renew Ministry team and is our Support and Recovery Groups Pastor.