Mental Health and the Church
Pastor Eugene encourages us to intentionally care for those among us who face mental health struggles.
I recently came across this sobering statistic in the news: There were 476 suicides reported in Singapore in 2022—the highest in more than 20 years. Citing data from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, the Samaritans of Singapore noted how last year’s number is 25.9 per cent higher than the 378 reported in 2021.
The data throws into sharp relief the mental health challenges that many in Singapore face. Difficult issues like social isolation and loneliness have had a huge impact on people’s mental wellbeing. Such societal trends underscore how important it is for us, as the church, to be a community where we care for one another, especially through the darkest valleys of life.
At our church camp in June, we thought about the theme of doing spiritual good to one another. Journeying with and caring for one another through mental health struggles is one way of loving one another. It takes a whole community of God’s people—serving together in faith and unity—to share the burdens of those facing struggles and challenges. In line with Paul’s exhortations in Romans 12, we are to “love one another with brotherly affection” (Rom 12: 10a), as well as to “weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15b).
What can we do to better care for those among us with mental health challenges? The book, Mental Health and Your Church (by Helen Thorne and Dr Steve Midgley), has some helpful suggestions.
1. Raise awareness that mental health struggles are a common human experience.
Help one another realise that mental illness is within the bounds of normal human experience. Therefore, we should de-stigmatise our struggles. We can help to create a safe space for us to talk about and share our burdens. We lament with one another, as we cry out to God together for mercy and strength.
2. Heed the call to relate to one another as brothers and sisters in the same spiritual family.
Patiently build trust as we gently and wisely speak the truth in love to one another. Assure those who struggle that they are not alone. Invest time and energy to share our lives with one another. Those of us who struggle play an invaluable part in helping the rest of the church to grow in wisdom and love. We need one another, as fellow members of the body of Christ.
3. Help one another to remember who God is and who we are as his children.
In our darkest moments, we can lose sight of who God is. Our spiritual brothers and sisters can help us to see God as he truly is, and to view ourselves as God sees us. When life hurts, it is vital to have a right grasp of God. He is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. It is equally crucial to understand how He remains good to us, for we are His beloved children in Christ.
4. Encourage one another with the truth that God is refining us in his time.
In God’s good providence, our struggles are not ultimately pointless. Even the smallest degree of growth is evidence of God’s wise, faithful, and loving work in us. Because we often change slowly, it can be easy to grow weary and discouraged. But take heart. There is hope, for God will not fail to complete the work he began in his people.
In addition to these suggestions, I encourage us to attend the Equip class, Side By Side. This class, which begins on Sunday (16 July), seeks to equip us to walk with one another in wisdom and love. May God encourage us to persevere in being intentional about doing spiritual good to one another. May He deepen our affection for the church, the people of God.
Here are some other helpful contacts where you can get help:
- Samaritans of Singapore Hotline: 1767
- Institute of Mental Health’s Helpline: 6389 2222
- Singapore Association for Mental Health Helpline: 1800 283 7019
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