Mental health is something that we need (and we really do need) to think about all the time. It is part of our day to day well-being, whether healthy or not, whether in treatment for a condition or managing it by ourselves. However, we have busy lives…we tweet, we blog, we go to work, look after the kids, feed the cats, all the things that keep us occupied. The danger is that, for some, all of this activity may be a way of avoiding issues of anxiety and a lack of self-confidence.
Although there is significant information on a vast number of medical conditions we are still reluctant to talk about mental health. Often this is down to feelings of social stigmatism that may get in the way of seeking some sort of solace or support. Why should there be feelings of inadequacy in asking for help?
There is a vulnerability in revealing anything about ourselves to the world; sometimes this can’t be avoided (the colour of our skin or a physical disability, for example) and sometimes we can be fearful of the reaction we could receive from others in our personal and social lives. There is also a fear of whether people will understand what we are going through with the danger of feeling judged.
We all yearn for self-confidence and may feel threatened by the possibility of showing signs of weakness.
A number of years ago, there was an advertising campaign on the London Underground. It was to promote the awareness of mental health issues and the mnemonic used was “You Don’t Have to be Mentally ill to Have Mental Health Problems”. Never were truer words spoken and share that simple strap-line with millions of commuters on a daily basis was a work of pure genius.
As Christians, one source of help is through our daily relationship with God. There is no coincidence in feeling better for having said a prayer or for the consideration of ‘including’ someone in our prayers when we are aware of the plight of others. How many of us remember, from childhood, the secure feeling of reciting the familiar “This night while I lie down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake …….. “?