Mental health is one of the least discussed topics in the Malayalee Christian community. It could be due to various cultural reasons. Spirituality can be defined as a deep relationship between man and God, which can be summed up as life in the spirit, holiness, discipline of the Holy Spirit, and a life demonstrating the gift of the Holy Spirit. There is a social stigma that mental illness is a result of not being spiritual and resulting from the anger of God. However, a profound understanding of the contributing factors of mental insanity and the role of the church in helping believers in coping and recovering from mental health issues is of utmost importance.
Mental health is defined as “a person’s condition about their psychological and emotional well-being. There are many contributing factors for the disturbance of mental well-being, such as biological, which includes hereditary, certain brain infections, defects of certain areas of the brain, substance abuse, etc. Psychological factors include childhood trauma, loss of a parent during childhood, loneliness or social isolation, poor living conditions due to poverty or debt, etc. Environmental factors that can trigger mental insanity include stress related to death or divorce, a dysfunctional family, low self-esteem, pressure from high social or cultural expectations, living with parents or siblings addicted to substance abuse, etc.
Bible gives us many examples of great people who have struggled with emotional guidance. It includes kings (David, Saul), prophets (Elijah, Jonah), Job, disciples of Jesus (Peter), servant of prophet (servant of Elisha), and many more. In all situations, the men and women of God overcome their struggles through prayer and getting closer to God during their times of trouble.
When we analyze the ministry of Jesus Christ, we can see that Jesus effectuated a holistic healing ministry. His ministry addressed the physical, emotional, spiritual, and social ailments of the people. The gospel of Matthew (4:23) portrays Jesus as a healer, who traveled in towns and villages, preached the good news of the Kingdom of God, and healed people physically and spiritually. Peter illustrates the ministry of Jesus to the household of Cornelius “He went about doing good and healing who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38). Jesus gave his disciples the authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out and to heal every disease and sickness (Luke 9-1). He has given us the spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. He has promised his peace and presence with us so that we can lead a fearless life in this world.
As the body of Christ, the church has the responsibility to understand and accept that the struggles are real and painful for the people who are going through them. The church can provide support to the believers through prayer and fellowship. Encourage each other by reminding the promises of Jesus that He will never leave us or forsake us.