The term, “mental health” has been around since the mid-19th century but was not widely studied. However, in 1948 the World Health Organisation defined mental health as, “…a condition…which enables the individual to achieve a satisfactory synthesis of his (sic) own potentially conflicting, instinctive drives; to form and maintain harmonious relations with others; and to participate in constructive changes in his social and physical environment.”

The Church was slow to pick up on mental health with many considering mental illness as a moral or spiritual failing and the scientific world often viewed spirituality as unscientific. However, today the two are regarding mental health as more complimentary with the recognition that total health includes physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. 

We are aware we live in a fallen world. Sin permeates everything and everyone, including our bodies and souls. As psychosomatic beings our biological functioning is affected positively or negatively by our mental state. We all suffer under the weight of living in a fallen world. For some even a small thought can trigger panic attacks or depression. But God does not leave His creation, fallen though it is. His love came down to us through the Man, Jesus. He took upon Himself the pain, brokenness, shame and hurt. He understands our struggles, struggles often not associated with anything we have done. Mental illness is not just a spiritual issue and may, at times, require medical intervention.

The most loving thing we can do for a person caught up in these distresses is to honour them by acknowledging their struggles (Rom 8:18-19). As followers of Jesus, we can support those around us, connect with them, listen to them and pray for them to begin to understand that God hears their cries (Prov12:18; 2 Cor 4:16-18).