In October, I encouraged folk to make a “voyage of discovery”? Did you try to listen more? Were you able to be a peacemaker? Did you discover a little bit more about who you really are?
Remember what Jesus said: “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” [Matthew 5:9 from The Message]
We hear that our uncertain political situation has been affecting the wellbeing of individuals. According to a report this year by the Mental Health Foundation, around four in ten people reported feeing powerless, angry or worried over the last year because of Brexit. And there is no significant difference between leavers and remainers. If true for the whole population, that would mean it has affected around 22 million people. Add to this the impact of other concerns such as the recent protests on climate change and its environmental consequences; and anxiety that social media instils in young people about their body image and we have a mental health epidemic on our hands.
The NHS has been highlighting the need to address this. A short film produced for the “Every Mind Matters” initiative as part of World Mental Health Day was narrated by the Dukes and Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex (William, Kate, Harry & Meghan). This is to encourage people to manage the early symptoms of poor mental health. When the film launched online, so many people attempted to view it that the site crashed. The page posted a message that read: "Oops, something went wrong. Please refresh … or try again later." Ironically, this could also be a message for all facing mental health problems.
Each of us need to be refreshed and to start again from time to time. King David faced many situations which brought him mental anguish. We read his honesty in many of the Psalms as he wrestled with his thoughts. Then, as he focussed on God, he found a peace and was refreshed. For example, in Psalm 46 the writer reflects that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” And then, “Be still, and know that I am God …”. Are each of us prepared to take time out to be renewed and refreshed for ourselves?
But can we also learn to help others when we see early symptoms of poor mental health? Bring peace, value people and learn to listen. Some people live with mental distress – but some die as a result of it. In 2016 in the UK a staggering 6,000 people committed suicide – and these deaths were preventable. Can we learn “to see the problem; to say the words – ‘are you thinking of suicide?’; and to signpost to support and resources”? Give 30 minutes of your time to take the free on-line suicide prevention training offered through www.zerosuicidealliance.com.
Over the next month will we listen more, discover more of who we really are, and are we prepared to save lives?