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God and mental health

God and mental health

Bethan Sadler – one of our brilliant PCC and a junior doctor currently working in A&E – spoke at St Luke’s last Sunday on God and mental health, as part of our teaching series on Elijah. The audio of that talk is here and in this post Bethan recaps the eight tips she gave for coping with low mood, depression or other mental health struggles.

1. Remind yourself of the truth
When we are depressed our thinking can be faulty and our perspective distorted, and so it’s important to be reminded of God’s truth, and what he says over us. Read God’s word aloud, listen to his truth and believe it for yourself. Some truths you might start with include:

‘I am God’s handiwork’ (Ephesians 2 verse 10)
‘God loved me so much that Jesus died for me’ (John 3 verse 16)
‘Nothing can separate me from God’s love.’ (Romans 8 verses 35-37)
‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ (Psalm 23 verses 1-3)
‘Jesus is with me always.’ (Matthew 28 verse 20)

2. Routine
Sometimes you might feel as though all you want to do is sleep, but it’s good to get up and get into a routine as much as possible. Try to incorporate exercise, good meals, and time out of the house into your day.

The Bible tells us that our bodies are ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 6 verse 19). It’s important to look after our bodies physically and this often has benefits on our mental wellbeing too.

3. Balance
It’s a paradox of depression that we often want to be on our own and may even push others away, and yet we feel desperately alone and isolated. Try not to be on your own for large amounts of time – pencil in seeing a friend for coffee or going along to hub. Push yourself to allow good friends in.

4. Educate yourself
There are many resources available about mental health, and the information might help you or those you’re supporting to understand better what’s going on and how best to respond.

Some excellent resources include:
Mind and Soul foundation | Heads Together | Royal College of Psychiatrists

5. Professional help
Like any other illness, a really good port of call can be your GP, or another GP at your practice who specialises in this area and you feel you can approach. Equally, emergency care is always an option.

I currently work in A&E where we sometimes see people who feel so depressed that they have started making plans to end their life. If this is the case for you or someone you love then A&E is a legitimate port of call and there will be someone there 24/7.

6. Personal support
Who is there around you? Are there one or two trusted friends who have been in your life for a while, who you could start to reach out to? This could be for yourself, or as someone supporting someone else. The Bible tells us in Galatians to “bear each others burdens”. Don’t suffer alone.

7. Hope
Trust and believe that this is not how it will always feel – depression is a dark valley to walk through, but this is not how it will always be. Revelation 21 reminds us that one day God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain”.

8. Talk
Especially if you are supporting someone in this, talking regularly seems so simple but is so important. Don’t worry about silences, just being with them and letting them chat it through at whatever pace and depth they’re able to is the key.

This is just a starting point, but I hope it’s a helpful one. Reaching out to others is so important in this – and we as St Luke’s want you to know you can always reach out to us if you want to. Chat to a friend, hub leader, or contact the office or one of the leadership team – we’re here for you.