If you haven’t noticed, there has been a significant increase in those struggling personally. A recent study by the CDC shows a forty percent increase in mental health issues and substance abuse. For some, the pandemic might be their first time to experience depression or anxiety, and unfortunately, this pandemic may also make getting necessary mental health help more difficult.
Dr. Dave Miers, the Director of the Behavioral Health Program at Bryan Medical Center, said 1 in 5 people will experience mental health problems in their life but that the pandemic may exacerbate that. He said all the unknowns of this time, coupled with long-term isolation recommendations, can really take its toll. Dr. Miers said if your sleep and appetite habits change, you become irritable, you lose interest in things you normally enjoy, or you have suicidal thoughts, it is time to reach out for help.
Yet, reaching out for help is challenging for many. Too many of us think we just need to be “stronger,” or we fake mental health, pushing down our emotions in hopes that one day we will start feeling better.
It’s good for us to understand that a mental health condition is no different from a physical one. Our brains are the most important organ in our bodies and can get sick just like our hearts, lungs, and livers. Furthermore, with the right help, you can recover from a mental health condition and lead a healthy life.
One of the ways we can all be an advocate for those struggling with mental health issues is to normalize asking for help. Instead of encouraging people to “tough it out,” “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” or “stuff” their feelings, we can encourage others to seek the help and resources of professionals. And there is a lot of help available! (Did you know Hope has a benevolence account for those needing financial assistance as they seek help?)
Also, for followers of Jesus, we hopefully understand that it is in our weaknesses and struggles that Jesus can be made known. The Apostle Paul shared with us, But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9)
These are challenging days, and we can encourage others when we share our weaknesses, normalize seeking help, and pray for one another.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or substance issues, please seek some help. Our Celebrate Recovery group meets every Thursday at 6:30pm. We also partner with Real Life Counseling (316-425-7774), and, as always, please feel free to reach out to our pastoral staff.