Let’s Talk about Mental Health and Wellbeing
Mental health and wellbeing, a phrase that has become common to hear over recent years. When I started teaching we barely talked about the mental health of our students. I dealt with a number of mental health issues during my time as a teacher, with no training and no real awareness of what was going on, upon reflection I hope at least provided comfort and support, even if I was ill equipped. Since my days of teaching I have made it a priority to understand and be equipped to support those around me, not just those with poor mental health but encouraging people to make decisions to support their own well being (as well as making decisions about my own!!)
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10
I love this verse, Jesus giving us an opportunity to live life to the full, I guess this is what drives me to work around mental health – it’s hard to live life to the full with poor mental health. I’m not sure it’s always felt like we have been living life to the full these last couple of years. For some being at home more, having the children around more, having just that bit more time has been a joy, but for many, it has been a struggle. Not being able to go out as much, see friends and family and generally having life disrupted has proved to be a real challenge and while things seem relatively normal now we are only just starting to see how people have been affected by this. Currently we are still having to sit with the idea of uncertainty, constant change and a ‘new normal’, so living life to the full may seem difficult, but there are ways we can start to live life to the full even in the current circumstances.
While mental health and wellbeing were not talked about much when I started teaching, thankfully this has changed. While people are still working on putting it on a par with physical health; thanks to celebrities and royalty it is certainly being talked about and is starting to be understood better than ever before. Often, however, we don’t link it in with what the Bible says about who we are. However, if Jesus wants us to live life to the full, our wellbeing and mental health must have a part to play.
I always think it’s important to state that wellbeing and good mental health is not about being constantly happy, with no problems in life, but it’s recognising how we deal with the emotions of the day and the resilience we have to deal with difficult times. Do you know psychologically that there are no good or bad emotions? For example, without the emotion of fear we would not want to run away from danger. Emotions like this are very strong and create a needed short-term action. What we would call ‘good’ emotions aren’t attached to such strong actions, such as peace and happiness, but they do broaden our awareness and resilience.
The problem is that in our culture, these seemingly negative emotions should be short-term, but we end up living in them long-term, meaning we are not living life to the full. Exploring issues around this (which is a much bigger job than we have time in this blog) can be a revelation to many. I think it’s always good to ask ourselves questions and reflect on where we are at ready to move forward.
- Do we see emotions as good and bad? On reflection can we see a purpose for many of our emotions?
- Do you feel you are living life to the full?
- What would it mean to you to live ‘life to the full’?
- List some of the things in your life that show you are ‘living life to the full’
- Is there anything you could change to help you live life to the full?
We invited Lynsey Norris, who is trained as a mental health first aider, to give us her thoughts on mental health and wellbeing in today’s uncertain world. This blog sets the scene for further reflection, training, and discussion in our next online training event led by Lynsey.