Over the course of time, I will have a lot more to say about the subject that follows. It is a topic that many families deal with. It is a reality many in our parish and wider community personally have to live with. It is sadly something that has been on the back burner of most Christian communities of faith, and this is not only unfortunate, but tragic. What I am speaking about is mental health.
I believe it is now time we put mental health care and issues on the front burner of what we do at the Chapel, not only because we are compelled to address a need that is right in front of us, but because Jesus responded to mental health issues throughout his ministry. Such stories in the Gospels may seem hard to find, but they are there, especially if we remember that the language we use now to discuss mental health issues was not the language used then.
Mental health issues and challenges confront most if not all families in one way or another, from substance abuse, to depression and anxiety, eating disorders, disordered relationships, stress, and difficulties in adjusting to changes, including aging, etc.
As a result, members of our team are beginning to talk about how we can move mental health up the ladder of what the Chapel is about. Our focus remains Jesus and worship, but over the years you will note that we have dramatically expanded many programs, including our Stephen ministry program (we now have 19 people providing one-to-one care). In addition, part of our Children, Youth and Family programs are about creating healthy experiences and foundations that counter future mental health struggles.
The point of my letter this week is to share my deep concern and passion about this issue, to encourage our community of faith to eliminate the stigma of mental health issues, to hopefully help those in our community who are silently suffering to come to us, and to make it clear that our purpose at the Chapel is to Love God and Love People (one way we will do this is by expanding what we do to address the mental health needs of our community).
Let’s roll up our sleeves, drop silence and stigmas and hush hush, and together get to work to respond as Jesus does to the often hidden pain that surround us.