What is mental health? Is poor mental health the same as having a mental illness? Do you struggle with asking people for help when you need it?
These were some of the questions that we tackled in our conversation about mental health. Mental health is a topic that has been growing in prominence ever since COVID-19 came to Singapore. During COVID-19, there have been reports of an increase in the number of calls to suicide help hotlines because of the pressure that Singaporeans were under.
According to the Institute of Mental Health in Singapore, mental health is about how we think, feel and act as we cope with our lives. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Good mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Periods of prolonged stress and the inability to cope can also put us in a position where we have poor mental health. Stress will be present in everybody’s lives. Therefore, we can see that poor mental health does not only affect people who struggle from types of mental illness, the everyday person can suffer from poor mental health too.
Our SG also acknowledged that there were certain stigmas about having poor mental health that were present in society today. One example is that many feel that it is shameful to suffer from poor mental health and this causes people to keep silent about their problems. Armed with this knowledge, we then set out to talk about mental health in our daily lives. We talked about some issues that we faced during circuit breaker and how we were able/not able to cope with the changes.
During our discussion, some mentioned that they felt anxious about what the future will be like. Others spoke about the struggles of feeling isolated because they were not able to physically meet up with loved ones. The conversation progressed to some of us also admitting that we had trouble asking for help due to various reasons. We realised that the struggle in asking for help affected everybody.
We then moved on to identifying people who are struggling to say “help” for the struggles that they are facing. Many of us identified friends as a group that we wanted to help. Some of our friends were struggling with loneliness, depression and mental illnesses and we wanted to be that listening ear to them. Some talked about setting aside intentional time for prayer so that we could intercede for our friends and we also brought up the importance of conversations as a means to show God’s love to people.
From this session, we were able to have a better understanding of mental health. Mental health is a topic that is important to God and we wanted to start creating conversations about it with our Christian and non-Christian friends.
We need to normalise speaking about mental health and share what the Christian view on mental health is. In the process of doing so, we can be salt and light to the people who are hurting and we can be conduits of God’s grace and love, in our actions and relationships.