"What I Learnt from the Mental Health Workshop..."
Ros Chow attended the inaugural Mental Health Workshop, which was held in Goulburn in March 2019, and shares what she learnt from the workshop in this article...
The inaugural Mental Health Workshop was held in response to an increasing incidence of depression, anxiety and trauma in our society.
Pastor Bob Beverley opened the day, stating that "even sons and daughters of God can be affected by great and small mental challenges". The possible causes of mental health issues were listed: physical, emotional and sexual trauma in early life; genetic disposition; consumerism & marketing; the fear of missing out (FOMO) generated by our social media culture, workplace stress, the failure to forgive, and loneliness. Other causes include financial burdens, lack of housing, and unemployment. "As people lose contact with community and the ways of the Lord, they can become more isolated, and mental health issues will rise."
The last session of the day was presented by Heidii Burgess who is a qualified youth and community services worker. Heidii gave us insight into the minds and world of teenagers - the social pressures that they deal with that can cause anxiety, depression and self-harming behaviours. Heidii 's suggestions for how we can support our teens includes making eye contact to establish a connection, being talent scouts on the lookout for their individual skills, getting them involved by using their skills in the Lord's work, and being an active listener. Heidii also shared a moving testimony of how the Lord helped her to mother her teenage daughter with grace instead of punishment, through what was a very trying time.
Here are the main take home points from the day.
- there is no stigma in having a mental health issue
- if it is impacting your daily life seek help
- there is no shame in being emotionally authentic, the only shame is missing out on life
- be honest and open about your difficulties with a trusted member of the church
- preaching God's Word to yourself is powerful against your mental strongholds, but there may also be a need to seek professional advice
- medications can improve mood and your ability to function and thereby receive God's Word
- cognitive behavioural strategies help manage unhelpful thoughts and behaviors
- count your blessings and be thankful
- pray ‘in your closet’ (privately), pray with others, and trust God through the process
- continue in fellowship to give you a sense of belonging and purpose
- keep serving God and care for others - it changes your focus
- what you say and what the other person perceives may be different
- be an active listener, and reflect back what you think the person said, and vice versa, to prevent misunderstandings
- be empathetic and validate the person's feelings even if you can't understand why they are feeling that way
- it is unhelpful to tell the person what they should do - instead ask what they want to do to move forward, and ask how you might help them
- be unconditional in love, support and time - everyone is different in what helps
- practical ways to help could be as simple as meeting for a cuppa or going for a walk
- have prayer together and share scriptures, if this is accepted
- uphold them in prayer, trust God and be patient, if prayer and the Word isn't accepted
Resources and recordings
More information, including talks and resources from the Workshop, can be found here.
Help and guidance is available at the Black Dog Institute, Beyond Blue, Lifeline, BRAVE for kids, and THIS WAY UP for adults. Help and guidance is also available from GPs, psychologists and psychiatrists, mental health nurses and social workers.Ultimately, the way to healing and wholeness is to go to God and seek His wisdom.
Proverbs 4:20-22 KJV:
As brothers and sisters in Christ, let us seek to be supportive and draw alongside those who may be struggling. Let the genuine unfeigned love of the Lord flow through us, and let's ask the Lord for the words of life to speak, and seek guidance from His Word . Let us, through the spirit within, strive to connect with and look deeper into the hearts of our brethren, to see the hurts or past experiences that may have created strongholds in their minds. And may we work together to pull down these spiritual strongholds.
2 Corinthians 6:4,6 KJV:
Ros Chow, Sydney
‘We believe the Bible is the true and inspired Word of God.’ John 12 v 48-50