Dear Hyde Park Family,
In 1949, the National Association for Mental Health (now Mental Health America) began designating the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a good time to acknowledge the prevalence of mental health challenges in our society, and it is an opportunity for us to combat the unfortunate stigma that is often associated with those fighting mental illness.
It’s an illness that affects about one in four people in the world. The World Health Organization names it as one of the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. By next year, it will be second only to heart disease in its prevalence among global diseases. See their report.
Chances are, someone you know and care for is affected by some form of mental illness. It may even be you. It shows no preference for any one demographic or life stage, and casts a long shadow in the homes, churches, schools, and workplaces throughout our communities.
If you’re looking for biblical precedent, many scholars point to 1 Samuel 18:10 as the best example of a biblical character who may have had depression: “The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Take a moment to pray for those affected by some form of mental illness. Work to overcome your own prejudice against people who are suffering, and help stem society’s stigma. Reach out in love and concern to loved ones you know who deal with this on a daily basis. Offer them a note of understanding, a compassionate ear or simply a kind word.
And take care of yourself! I, for one, have been blessed with a number of great therapists over the years, especially the one I am seeing now. Some of the finest, healthiest people I know are unashamedly candid about their personal challenges, and the great benefits they have received from a solid support system.
So, if you are one of the millions dealing with mental illness, know that you need not walk this journey alone. Seek out the trusted counsel of a friend or professional, and feel the presence of God’s peace in your life. And of course, the pastors of this church are here to recommend therapists and counselors, and to provide spiritual counsel as part of your journey toward healing.
Together, let’s do the work of the church, and be a beacon of light for those who walk along dark paths.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
UMC RESOURCE FOR MENTAL HEALTH
The United Methodist Board of Church and Society offers this helpful resource regarding mental illness. It provides biblical and spiritual guidance, along with practical steps and connections to helpful programs.