Cassie Steele – OCP News Service – 20/1/18
How the Orthodox Church Can Help in the Battle Against Mental Health Concerns
The Orthodox Church recognizes the role of spirituality in strong mental health. It is an important job of Christians to help the vulnerable in their hour of need and to turn them towards the love of Christ. Depression is increasing in America, with the younger generation most affected. This means that in a few years time, we could be heading towards a mental health epidemic. Here’s how the Orthodox Church can play a role in helping those with serious mental health concerns.
Christ taught us never to condemn, but to accept a person with all of their flaws. Mental health should be no exception. In fact, mental illness should not be considered a weakness at all. It is a part of God’s creation and so we should accept it just as we accept every other aspect of a person.
While schizophrenia can be treated, it is incurable. A person diagnosed with schizophrenia or any other serious condition should therefore not be condemned. As followers of Christ, we have no right to judge, but only to offer acceptance. By doing this, we have taken the first step to providing support.
Those with mental health conditions are significantly more prone to suicide. They are living with much pain, understandably, and may fail to see the importance of life. The Orthodox Church can spread the word of God in order to reveal that each person has an immortal soul.
Through this, it can be taught that life is sacred and has meaning. This meaning is often enough to keep people going even in their darkest moments. It also helps to reveal God’s plan. Once a person knows they will be rewarded in the next life, it can ease some of the burdens of this one.
There are few communities as strong as the Christian Church. We are welcoming to all, without judgement. The Church has always taken an active role in the surrounding community, but should do more to encourage those with mental health concerns to join. For people with depression or anxiety, becoming socially active can be daunting. However, it is essential for their mental health.
It is therefore the job of the Orthodox Church to provide an atmosphere with is welcoming, so that anyone can feel comfortable and confident in our sanctuary. Through this, we can build meaningful connections. Strong relationships and support could mean the difference between between life and death for those with the most serious mental health conditions.
The Orthodox Church is a vital component of providing support to those with mental health concerns. We can offer a non-judgemental, accepting, community focused atmosphere for those who need it the most. We are doing the Lord’s work by taking in those who need our help and providing them with support. If we can turn them towards God, we can provide their life with meaning and understanding of something greater than themselves, giving them strength to carry on.
Cassie Steele – OCP News Service