Why does mental health matter to me?


Have you heard that 1 out of 5 adults in the US will experience some type of mental health issue this year? Recently I spoke to a church on the subject of mental illness and used this statistic. One gentleman raised his hand and somewhat jokingly said "I'm looking around and there are about 40 people in this room….so you mean that about 8 of us are going to have a problem?"

Statistically, yes, that is what I mean.

Some people are taken aback by this realization because their thoughts immediately go to news stories or movies that depict more severe levels of mental illness. They can't imagine they would be at risk for such a crisis of mental health in their life. And most are probably right to some degree, because mental health issues do not always involve what we think of as more severe symptoms such as psychosis, destruction, or violence as the media frequently portrays.

So why should it matter to you that 1 in 5 adults will experience some type of mental health issue? Here are a few reasons why:

  • Do you know what the symptoms are of common mental health issues?
  • Do you know what resources are available if you experience a mental health issue?
  • Do you know who to contact if you begin noticing some red flags in your own life? What about the life of your spouse? Your child? Your parent?

We may want to think that mental health issues and problems don't occur in the church, but they do. They occur for us as congregants, struggling through tough life situations, and they occur for our ministers and their families. And with the statistic of 1 in 5, the likelihood that you as a church member will come across someone struggling with these issues and many more is pretty great if you attend a church with at least five people.

You might also recognize it matters to you because of:

  • The pastor who struggles with depression and burnout.
  • The children's minister who needs help for anxiety.
  • The worship minister who battles a secret addiction.
  • The youth minister who feels as if life doesn't seem worth living anymore.
  • The education minister who struggles with the loss of a child.

The topic of mental health is a broad one. The scenarios mentioned above are only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Are you still asking why it should matter to me?

Over the next few weeks, I'll be highlighting reasons for Texas Baptists to become more aware of mental health issues as well as practical thoughts and ideas on how individuals and churches can be more involved in the mental health discussion.

Related articles: How taking a retreat with your spouse can strengthen your marriage and ministry / The power of presence in the lives of teens / Addiction and the church