The pool of Bethesda was located in a bustling part of Jerusalem. Sheep were bought and sold for sacrifice here. In the story, it was a Sabbath day during Passover, which meant thousands of people passed by the pool. And because the pool had curative powers it was even more crowded. The bible records that there were five porches at the pool of Bethesda; many people would lay on these porches, waiting for an opportunity to be healed.
In our church every Sunday, those of us with mental illness come in and go to our respective porches: whether that porch is in the choir loft, the lobby as a greeter, the audio booth as a sound technician, or the pew. They are simply waiting on someone to come and help them.
If my mood is having an impact on my ability to think clearly or how I function day-to-day, then it may be that I’m experiencing a mental health issue.
Mental Illness comes in many different forms. The following are signs that mental health professionals use to give a mental health diagnosis:
- Argue at the drop of a hat
- Stay in my bedroom a lot
- Believe everyone is trying to do me harm
- Cry for no reason
- Abuse drugs
- Abuse alcohol
- God has appointed me, and only me, to accomplish a certain task
- I become super-religious
- I become the savior of __________ (i.e. small animals)
“Nearlly 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 10 children experience mental health issues.”
Among the top 10 disabling illness
Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction are among the top disabling mental illnesses, with depression the number one illness.
Treatment success rate is greater for mental illness than cancer, hyper-tension, diabetes… Yet, because there is such a stigma surrounding mental illness, people often don’t receive the help they need.
“There is a stigma around the term mental illness.” – Pat Strode
Mental Health Misconceptions
Matthew 9:20 chronicles the story of the woman with the issue of blood. Today that would be called a hemorrhage. This can be treated with medication and therapy.
Mark 9:17-18 records the story of the boy with the mute spirit. Today that would be called epilepsy. This can be treated with medication and therapy.
Mark 5:1-6, 9 relates the story of the man with the unclean spirit. Today this would be called Psychosis. This can be treated with medication and therapy.
Be Aware of The Losses
The devastating aspect of mental illness is that there are losses for everyone. For those who are experiencing mental health issues, their future is often radically changed:
- relationships are often severed.
- careers are lost.
- families are torn apart.
- bank accounts are quickly drained for treatment.
What Can We Do
We can simply do what Jesus did:
- Visit Them (or call if visiting is not an option)
- Listen Without Judgment
- Offer help