This week is ‘Mental Health Awareness Week’, and while we may feel such labels are not particularly useful (since mental health matters fifty-two weeks of the year and not just one), it can be helpful to stop and think about such things in a more reflective way.

People are not just physical beings; we are created in the image of God, and our emotional and mental health are as important as our physical health (in fact, the two can’t be separated; ‘wellbeing’ or ‘health’ refers to every aspect of our lives.) Physical problems may be more visible, however, and therefore we seek help when we see those problems more readily.

How we feel and think are much harder to articulate and discern. This can lead to us becoming stressed, anxious, fearful and even despairing – and not knowing how to handle those perfectly normal human emotions in ways that help us rather than harm us further. We need to understand at the deepest level that God loves us and accepts us as we are, no matter how we feel. He wants us to know life in all its fulness (John 10:10) and to bring us to the place of contentment and satisfaction, no matter what the external stress factors might look like.

We may need to learn new coping strategies, to be transformed in the way we think, to find ways of dealing with the stresses of life, but we can do this safe in the security of our relationship with God. No matter how bleak we may feel circumstances are or how sorrowful our situations, God is a very present help in times of trouble. (Ps 46:1)

Don’t despair; don’t give up. There is hope for the hopeless in God. There is help for the helpless. There is a way out which God provides for us which leads to hope. (1 Cor 10:13)

If you need to talk further with people about mental health issues, here are some useful telephone numbers – but don’t forget you can talk to God about these things 24/7.

  • You can call Humankind – Umbrella, in Barnsley on 01226 709040 (Mon- Fri 9.00am – 5.00pm)

  • Or call Barnsley IAPT on 01226 644900 (Mon- Fri 9.00am – 5.00pm)

  •   Or call NHS on 111, or  your local GP

  • You can call Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone).