“Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.”  -Fred Rogers

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It is helpful to have this reminder of the importance of mental health in our lives, both as individuals and as a society. I recently met with a local psychologist and mental health provider in our community. They shared the sad truth about the lack of resources to meet the need for mental health care in our community. It is a fact I have heard expressed by numerous instructors and classmates while in the MSW program at ASU and one that I witnessed in recent months when trying to help several families seek the most adequate mental health care for their children. While numerous factors contribute to this situation, our society’s failure to prioritize mental health is significant.

I am hopeful, however, that strides have been and are being made to raise awareness and normalize our need for mental health as well as to reduce the stigma surrounding challenges many of us face with our mental health. We see the issue addressed in movies and television programs. We see it raised by public figures and mentioned in social media outlets more than in decades past. I am encouraged, also, that it has become a more natural topic of conversation among our youth.

Most importantly, changes within our churches offer hope. For example, our congregation observes mental health Sunday twice each year and has a support group for those experiencing mental health challenges (and their loved ones) because we know that God is the God of our whole body—our whole life experience—and God has created us for wholeness. Every part of us is loved and embraced by our Creator, and every part of us matters to God. As the Mr. Rogers quotation states, talking about our experiences helps our healing and wellness, and as church we seek to create spaces to support that.

We are grateful for Mary Alice Do and her initiative that guided us to these ministries, knowing that each day calls us to grow both in awareness of our own need for good mental health and in learning ways of supporting one another.

We know we do not always get it right for ourselves or for others. However, we rest in the hope of God With Us. We rest in the hope of God’s grace that upholds and grants us avenues to the next moment or the next day to try anew.  May we approach ourselves and one another with this same grace and hope.