By Jessica Wallace
September is National Suicide Prevention month in the US. During the current pandemic, the number of people experiencing distressing symptoms of anxiety and depression has increased compared to last year, including individuals considering suicide (Czeisler, et al., 2020). It’s understandable how social distancing and the closure of many activities has increased these numbers.
For many it has severely limited their social interactions, removed healthy coping mechanisms, and provided opportunity to pick up destructive habits. We were not created to be alone. Living within a community is key to good spiritual, emotional, and mental health.
However, this is not a new struggle. The current pandemic has exacerbated an issue that was already present. And after life returns to the normal level of activity that took place before March 2020, people will continue to live with depression and consider suicide.
Hope is Not Cancelled
Churches are often the first point of contact for individuals and families who are facing a mental health crisis (“Creating Community Connections for Mental Health”, 2019). Our hope lies in Christ.
As his ambassadors, we want to keep the conversation open so that we might point others to the hope and healing offered to them through the love of Jesus. Finding faith-based mental health resources can feel difficult. We want our community to know that support is available and accessible through our Care & Compassion ministry here at Bethel.
Jesus Loves You
If you are struggling right now with suicidal thoughts or symptoms of depression or anxiety, I want you to know that you are not alone, you are loved, and Jesus is very present with your pain. I encourage you to reach out for support. You can find resources to help you understand your symptoms at mentalhealth.gov
and Church and Mental Health
also has a great list of resources, including faith-based books and online groups.
Maybe you are not living with depression, but you know someone who is. The above resources can be helpful for you as well. Bethel’s Fresh Hope group
is also open to those who have a loved one living with a mental heath diagnosis. Contact us
and we would be happy to discuss other options for support for you and your loved one.
I also recommend putting the local number for Crisis Support in your phone’s contact list (509-783-0500). I hope you don’t have to use it, but you will be glad you saved it if you ever do need to call.
Together We Rise
There are a lot of myths surrounding mental health. Awareness and education are part of prevention, and I would be remiss to not include resources I have personally found helpful.
Do you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide? Maybe you want to better understand depression and suicidal thoughts. On her podcast The Happy Hour, Jamie Ivey recently interview Kayla Stoecklein
, who lost her husband to suicide in 2018. I promise you will learn a lot and be encouraged by Kayla’s faith and hope in Christ.
To hear ongoing discussions around faith and mental health tune into the CXMH podcast
. For daily encouragement, you can also find Holly Oxhandler and Robert DeVore, hosts of CXMH podcast, on Instagram.
We are better together, I truly believe that. Loving each other means accepting one another where we find ourselves and pointing to the hope we have in Christ as we walk the path towards healing and wholeness together.
This isn’t just ministry, it’s life. And when we do it together, admitting that we all struggle at times, asking for help, extending grace - we bear each other’s burdens, lifting each other up to throne of grace where we can find mercy to help in time of need.
Jessica Wallace is the Mental Health Specialist at Bethel. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org