I’ve never much liked awareness weeks, or special days for this or that, for the simple reason that I think they often end up being token gestures. We remember X on this day and forget about it for the remaining 364 days of the year. I have therefore fought shy of Mental Health Awareness Week, but so many of the requests for prayer that we receive via our email prayerline have touched on mental health recently that I have been forced to rethink my attitude.
Mental health is something that affects us all, every day of the year, but we still seem to have complicated, and sometimes quite negative, feelings about it. Anyone who is not ‘normal’ — whatever we mean by that — who suffers from stress/anxiety/depression/bipolar/schizophrenia or any one of a thousand other conditions, is an object of pity and/or fear. Objectification is a terrible thing to do to another human being. It makes them ‘other,’ and not in a very kind or respectful way. I hope readers of this blog are generous in their support of mental health charities. I hope they are generous with their prayer. Most of all, however, I hope they are welcoming and accepting of friends and family who struggle with mental health difficulties, and supportive of those closest to them, who often struggle equally. No one tells a cancer patient to ‘snap out of it’ or runs from them in fear. Sadly, that is not the experience of many who suffer from mental illnesses. We may not think we can make much of a difference, but we can at least try, can’t we?