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Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness month, with a history going back to 1949.  Awareness of mental illnesses has come out of the shadows with commercials for treatments and rehab facilities advertised prominently on television. Unfortunately, issues around mental health are still very stigmatized. 

The discussion of mental health is sorely lacking and people suffering from a mental illness often have very limited resources at their disposable.

Mental illnesses are often viewed as weaknesses, not as treatable diseases.  Many judge a person’s character if they have depression, PTSD, or schizophrenia.  They are often told to “just snap out of it” or “stand up a face your problems”.

What can we learn from Jesus’ healing of the sick in regards to our brothers and sisters with mental illnesses or other afflictions?

Jesus looked into the eyes of those that he healed, touched them physically, and spoke to them.  He did not consider their illness as a punishment from God.  Jesus freely gave his help to the sick, the dying, and even the recently dead!

Perhaps we can learn from our Savior how to treat those who are sick and dying.

Acknowledge their pain.  (Mark 3:1-5 NIV)
Make physical contact with them when they reach out for you or you reach out to them.  (Mark 7:33-34 NIV)
Offer what you can do freely.  (Mark 2:40-44 NIV)
Do not judge them.  (John 9:2 NIV)

If this is what we are called to do, should our societal institutions not do the same?  Healing for Jesus was not an individual act but a political one that had ramifications throughout his society.  He healed not in private but in public. Jesus gave us a Way, both as individuals and citizens to not just treat, but to heal our brothers and sisters.