The topic of mental health has dominated headlines since Olympic gymnast Simone Biles prioritized her mental health over an audience hungry for her performance. I admire Ms. Biles for her courage—for making the difficult decision to withdraw from the team competition and for talking about mental health. It is a topic that needs attention; I feel the need to sound an alarm without being an alarmist. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, which affects how we think, feel, and act. It impacts workforces, families, and individuals today more than ever, largely due to our global pandemic. According to the CDC, the prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorders in 2020 during COVID was approximately three times those reported in 2019 (25.5% vs 8.1%). Work-life balance and mental health is something that touches many if not all of our lives, and the Church should take its proper place as an advocate for healing and support. We need to shine a light of hope for millions who are in need of psychological respite. Prior to my ministry as a bishop, I was blessed to serve a local church that brought mental illness out of the shadows and started a ministry to provide support for education and partnership. I’m thankful for their commitment to impacting the community around them in this way. We are the Church. If ever there is a time for us to BE the Church, it’s now. People in our churches and communities are hurting. They are overwhelmed and nearing burnout. They are experiencing depression and anxiety. People need to know that it is okay to not be okay. How can we love and support and minister to them? How can we be a compassionate presence and part of the solution? I pray that we continue to advocate for more resources and policies that give this subject and health challenge the needed attention it deserves. I don’t claim to have a prescribed solution for how we should respond, so I turn to you. How are you and your churches reaching out to and ministering to those who struggle with mental health? In so sharing, may we multiply resources and ideas and “bear each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Be encouraged, Bishop Julius C. Trimble