1st February 2018

Time to Talk Day 2018

“He also healed people of their diseases and of the bad effects of their bad lives. Word got around the entire Roman province of Syria. People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all.”
Matthew 4:23-24 (MSG)

1st February 2018 is national Time to Talk Day.[i] Talk about what, you may well ask! The answer – mental ill health.

Mental ill health has many faces. It can include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorder, post-natal depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and more! Mental illness is variously caused by genetics, inherited traits, environmental experiences, drug abuse, physical trauma/injury, childhood abuse, negative life experiences. In fact, there is a complexity of causes and they can be triggered by stressors such as the death of a loved one, physical illness, or traumatic events such as divorce, loss of job etc. It can happen to any human being – that’s you, me, and everybody else. In fact, as you read this, 1 in 4 persons are likely to be struggling. Yet we can each help.

Mental illness can be temporary, or it can be life-long. The chances are you are in contact with someone right now who is struggling with mental ill health – but because of the stigma surrounding this, they may well feel the need to keep this hidden.

Today, 1st February 2018, Britain is being encouraged to talk about mental ill health, and your next question may well be why!

Despite massive inroads into understanding mental ill health, there is still lots of stigma and discrimination surrounding the subject. Stigma comes from fear, which is rooted in misunderstanding. Talking about mental health increases understanding. For Christians in general this may raise uncomfortable questions. Though the Bible describes multiple persons with mental illness, the language used is descriptive rather than medical, and there is confusion and differences of opinion regarding potential overlap between mental illness and demon possession. But consider this – we read that Jonah (Jonah 4:3, 8), Job (Job 6:8), David (Psalm 42) and even Paul (Philippians 1:21) experienced feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts – yet no-one accuses them of being demon possessed! The two subjects may or may not be connected. But whatever you choose to believe, does it really matter? Clearly to Jesus Christ it did not! We should follow his example.

We read in the above scripture (Matthew 4:24) “Jesus healed them, one and all.” He did not differentiate between illnesses! At a future date, Matthew 8:1-18, we see Christ again healed “all the sick” (verse 16), including demon possession. Consider how lepers were stigmatised in Christ’s time – with Levitical laws dictating their separation (Leviticus 13-14) – yet Christ touched them (verse 3).   Today leprosy is healed using antibiotics! Similarly, mental illness can be managed using drugs, just as we use drugs for physical ill health. Equally, there are alternative therapies for both physical and mental health, though each person must make their own decision about treatment without receiving judgement from others.

Why someone may be suffering ill mental health is not for us to judge, rather we should follow the example of Jesus Christ to love each other as He loved us (John 13:34). And this can be as simple as being there to talk, help and to listen (James 1:19). Today is an opportunity for each of us to talk about mental health with those around us. Let’s use it.

Prayer
God our Father, please use us as vehicles of healing, hope and encouragement for those undergoing mental distress.
Amen

Study by Irene Tibbenham

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About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a Deaconess and serves on the Pastoral Council in the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane
NORWICH
NR1 2HX

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

 

[i] https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day-2018