“Added to the fear of contracting the virus in a pandemic such as COVID-19 are the significant changes to our daily lives as our movements are restricted in support of efforts to contain and slow down the spread of the virus. Faced with new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues, it is important that we look after our mental, as well as our physical, health.” This is an excerpt from the World Health Organization’s website. This is a valid concern raised here. In their efforts to help the world combat the threat of the Corona Virus Pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been reminding people to look after their mental health.
Is Mental Health a spiritual issue?
Your answer to this question will depend on your definition of “Spiritual Issues.”
Does the Bible offer any help in dealing with mental health? My answer is Yes!
Some of us have had the errant notion that the Bible only addresses some dimensions of life while ignoring others. A good number of us have no doubt regarding the ability of the Bible to provide spiritual guidance, theological insight, and religious guidance. But when it comes to dealing with issues around mental health, emotional turbulences, trauma and so on, we appear to get some level of confusion.
Corona Virus is just one among many experiences in this life that can have an impact on our mental health. We can sometimes go through deeply distressing events, deeply disturbing experiences that leave marks of psychological debilitation and depression. It has been said that depression is the most common type of mental disorder in the world. An experience like the loss of a child, for example, can see us sink in depression. Another cause of depression is intense guilt resulting from a past event. This guilt can be the result of something that someone did to you, like rape. It can also be as a result of something that you did, for example, a sinful act. It could be the result of an addiction that one has struggled with or is struggling with. We cannot exhaust the potential threats to our mental health in this world.
And that’s why we need to find solutions to the problem of mental health.
The Bible does not ignore the problem. We find sufferings and healings in the Bible. We are blessed to have accounts of men and women of God who found themselves in distressing moments in their lives. They include Elijah the Prophet, Job, David, Samson, Jesus Christ (in his humanity). Jesus’ struggle at Gethsemane and his candid question on the cross in Matthew 27:46, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, should help anyone of us going through distress to realize that they are not alone. Even our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ went through events that were emotionally and psychologically overwhelming (as a man). And as the author of the letter to the Hebrews puts it, “…we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Because Jesus went through what he went through and came out victoriously, he is able to overcome every illness, sickness and disease that we have. In Matthew 5:23, Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Let us therefore ask him to help us out of all the forms of difficulties and sufferings that we find ourselves in today, by faith. He is able to deliver us. He is able to heal us.