“Let’s get people talking about mental health.” It sounds good in principle, but like many turns of phrase that sound virtuous, in the wrong hands and in the wrong context it is advice that can be anything but helpful.
[I wrote most of this article shortly after the death of actor Robin Williams. It has sat in draft for a few years for no particular reason, and I have brushed it up and published it now.]
Another man has killed himself, this time another entertainer. Although more women than men harm themselves, more men than women kill themselves. News stories that carry the story are, as always, including contact details for youth mental health services, and the story is being associated with the fact that we need to talk about depression and suicide. That message is loud and clear: We need to talk about it. It’s great that we’re getting people talking. We need to talk more. We need to get the issue out there more and get people talking. Talk!
That’s good and bad. Continue reading “Talking (and talking, and talking) about mental health”
If you kill yourself, then the only reason you did it is that one day you made a choice to do it. Are things really that simple?
Popular Christian blogger Matt Walsh has been getting a bit of flack lately. In a blog entry that was, in my view, a pretty bad idea, he offered what he took to be a correction to the many messages of sorrow about the recent death by suicide of actor Robin Williams. People have been drawing attention to Robin’s struggles with substance abuse and, more prominently in people’s comments, with the mental illness that is depression. I think it’s right to draw attention to this, and for Robin’s sad passing to be a reminder to us all how debilitating depression can be, and to reach out and help those who battle it. Sometimes you know about it, a lot of the time you won’t. Continue reading “Mental health and choice: A plea for some people to say less”
Are religious people on the whole more likely to be mentally ill?
We live in a world where people form strong opinions (or rather, are happy to see their already strong opinions/biases reinforced) by browsing headlines. So when people see the (still fairly recent) headline, “Spiritual people are more likely to be mentally ill,” you can guess what prejudices will be reinforced. “Religion is a symptom of an unwell mind!” Or maybe “Religion is so crazy that it makes those who believe in it go mad!” Whatever the specifics, the point is, religion equals nutso.
Here, as with many misunderstandings, the solution is simply taking a few minutes to read and digest the information before leaping to conclusions. Continue reading “Religion and Mental Health”
Taking a very short break from the series In Search of the Soul, here’s a talk I gave at Church a few nights ago. It was on Psalm 69 and the subject of lament. Nothing too intellectually deep, but hopefully something to chew over. Enjoy.