In recent years in England, there has been a surge in people being open about mental illness and seeking to break down the stigma. However, there is little to no progress in Christian representation in this conversation.
As a mental health nurse, Christian and a person, like everyone else who has mental health, I witness the conflict of the influence of faith and religion on mental illness. An alternative narrative can meet in the middle of a spiritual and a medical understanding, offering Christian people the best of both worlds and hopefully improve early access to mental health services by Christians and enable these people to receive support from the church pastorally.
I personally have felt compelled to do something about this.
Locally, I have run a training day for GB leaders in the district my group is in to support leaders to understand young people’s mental health and also offer a space to think about the language we as Christians may use to talk about mental illness.
I also took this as an opportunity to think with leaders about the Biblical perspectives on mental illness that are traditionally drawn upon and what may be more helpful passages to use when approaching mental illness in Christians.
Thanks to GB I’ve also had the opportunity to explore faith and mental illness in other cultures.
When on a mission extension trip to North Macedonia with GB Europe I ran a workshop on soul care as part of an event for Christian women, giving them an opportunity to hear a message of hope but also of validation of their experiences.
Women reflected that they’d never been told it’s okay to have a mental illness as a Christian and that this isn’t a reflection on their strength of faith.
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