Picture courtesy of http://www.aacc.net
For years it has been my goal to live a life that valued making a difference in the lives of others. Because of the household I was raised in, I hold in high regard living a life that is focused on helping others. However, until this year, I was not aware of how serious a topic mental health is. As I began to look at mental health issues along with looking at my life and the life of those around me, I came to a conclusion that mental health is a topic that needs to be discussed and looked at in our society. As a result of this revelation, I consider myself a mental health advocate. Allow me to share some reasons why I’ve become a mental health advocate.
- Mental health affects all of us in some way, shape or form. Although physical health is extremely important, I believe mental health is equally important. One aspect of mental health is our mind and thoughts. All of us have to think on a daily basis. Our thoughts at times can be influenced by how healthy we are internally. Sometimes our attitudes toward others is a reflection of whatever thoughts are circulating in our mind. In addition to all of us having to think, it is highly possible that all of us have family members that are struggling mentally. In my opinion, mental health is not so much about intellectualism but about the state of our minds. Because all of us are affected by mental health, it is important that all of us are aware of what mental health is and how it can affect every part of society.
- Life can be one of the causes of mental health issues. From my own experience and hearing the stories of others, I am convinced that many people struggle with mental health because of some of the events that have happened in their life. Whether it was being bullied as a child, being raped in childhood or going through some other traumatic experience, these events in life can damage our mental health especially if we do not seek the help needed. Life is tough and a part of life being tough involves some of the things we have to go through. It only takes one traumatic event in our lives for us to be damaged mentally. No matter where we are in life, life can get the best of us. The biggest thing we should be doing is helping each other navigate through this journey called life. Being aware of mental health issues gives us another vehicle to helping people who’ve been scarred by life get on a path of healing and restoration. Moving past the hurts of life is no easy feat, but I believe that through the power of God, therapy if necessary and a supportive community, one can get to a place of healing and restoration within their mind and heart.
- God cares about our wounds and concerns. 1 Peter 5:7 instructs us to cast our cares (anxieties) upon Him because He cares for us. If God is concerned about the things that worry us, then we should be concerned as well. While this verse speaks of us casting our cares to God, I believe that God created us as relational beings. As a result, we should have communities that allow people to express what is going on mentally with them. Our communities should be supportive of one another on the path to healing. We need not have people in our communities who act like mental health issues are something demonic. Mental health issues are real and can be the difference between someone trying to move forward or giving up on life. God’s concern for the things that concern us should empower us to be concerned about the wounds of others. If we had this amount of concern that God has, a lot of us wouldn’t treat people the way we do. Our attitude towards others should always reflect the heart of God.
- I want to see our churches talk more about mental health. One of the bad stigmas about the American church that I’ve heard is that churches are not talking enough about mental health issues. Is this stigma true? Perhaps, but it’s time to change this stigma. Our churches have a huge amount of people hurting each and every Sunday. As I said in a blog post I wrote about mental health, putting a praise on our problems is fine, but there are times where our problems need more assistance in being solved. I believe that some of the issues that take place in our churches come from people not being where they need to be mentally. Churches must lead the conversation in mental health awareness. On a personal level, even though my irons are in a lot of fires already, I hope to be one of the leaders in my home church in starting something that increases the conversation of mental health in my church and the faith communities in our area.
In conclusion, I want to share a couple of ways that I’m getting involved in mental health advocacy. First, I am a part of a group on Facebook called the Faith & Mental Wellness Community that was started by Sis. Brittney Moses, who is also the founder of the Unashamed Impact movement. The stories that our members have been expressing regarding some of their mental health issues has blown my mind. People are really hurting and need a safe place to be a part of. If you’re struggling with mental health issues and need a safe place to express yourself and whatever you’re facing, join our community of love, support and encouragement. The link for joining this group will be at the bottom of the page. Second, I have a mental health board on Pinterest. It is there where I post some of my favorite mental health posts, quotes, etc. The link will also be on the bottom of the page.
If you have any ideas in how I can become more of a mental health advocate, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment. I am serious about mental health and want the conversation to continually increase. If you’re struggling with any sort of mental health illness, please be encouraged to know that God loves you and so do I! Let’s heal!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/faithandmentalwellness/?fref=nf (Faith & Mental Wellness Community)