Here is a copy of an article which I wrote for a local paper, the ‘Lymington Times’, and which was published in October 2004 – 9 years ago but still relevant today.
Sunday 10th October was World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is the relationship between physical and mental health. There is also a relationship between spiritual, physical and mental health. There is an on-going two-year project looking into spirituality and mental health which came about because there is increasing evidence that spirituality can help people prevent and recover from mental ill health. The Church of England has recently published a guide entitled Promoting Mental Health. As it is estimated that in the course of a year 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem, this is an issue that can affect us all, or someone close to us.
A resource pack for promoting mental health identified four Hs for mental health: Happiness, Help, Haven and Hope. The Bible has much to say about these. The Good News Bible uses the word Happy in its translation of the Beatitudes. Happy are those who mourn; happy are the merciful; happy are the humble; happy are those who work for peace. This sort of happiness goes much deeper than just feeling happy or light-hearted. It gives contentment even in the most trying circumstances.
The Bible tells us that God is our help in times of trouble. He is our refuge, a safe place – another word for haven.
Best of all the Bible message gives us hope, a certain hope that is an anchor for our souls, firm and secure [Hebrews 6:19].
Two of the greatest enemies of our mental well-being are fear and loneliness. Jesus promised his followers that he would be with them always, to the very end of the age [Matthew 28:20]. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, of Whom Paul wrote that He is not a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind [2Timothy 1:7].
The Bible is a rich treasure chest of statements we can use when attacked by negative thoughts like: ‘I’m hopeless’, ‘I’m useless’, ‘Nobody loves me’, ‘Nothing ever goes right for me’.
One passage which I have found particularly helpful in times of distress over the years is Philippians 4:6,7 ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’
What a wonderful promise to help us maintain our mental well-being!
Barry Pearman has written recently on the same topic: How does Reading the Bible help my Mental Health?
What verses have you found helpful for your mental well-being? Do please share.