“…love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”  – John 13:34

“When we feel certain that the human soul is no longer at work in the world, it’s time to make sure that ours is visible to someone, somewhere.” – Parker J. Palmer, On the Brink of Everything

The pandemic has brought mental health into the spotlight due to its effect on every segment of our society. Whether due to physical distancing, social isolation, loss of jobs, the death of loved ones, or the difficulty of being around people again, the mental health of many people in our country has been affected. This includes people who have struggled with challenges before and those facing challenges for the first time. According to the latest statistics (which do not include the time of the pandemic) presented by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34

These numbers show us the prevalence of people who face challenges with their mental health. Did you see? Statistically, if we walk into a room of 4 people, at least one will, is, or has already faced a mental health challenge in the year. These numbers tell us we are in this together. Sadly, however, many face their struggle alone.

This week in worship we observe Mental Health Sunday. This observance is part of our church’s aspiration to be a supportive and empowering presence for those facing mental health challenges and for their loved ones. We recognize the need to break down the stigma around mental health, so we talk about it, hear one another’s stories, and seek God’s presence in them. As the Parker Palmer quotation says, we see the need to let our soul become visible so those facing challenges know they are not alone. We remember Jesus’ example of accompanying those who suffer and seek to do likewise. We hope to be part of the movement of God’s wholeness that embraces, comforts, encourages, and supports others toward recovery.