Care for Everyone
The Bible calls humanity to care for those with mental illnesses or other disabilities, regardless of their origins or circumstances. Deuteronomy 10:19 sums up this spirit of inclusion: “You shall love the sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” Jesus took this process of inclusion a step further, reminding his followers that “whatever you do for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me.” This verses provide evidence that Jesus was reminding his followers to care for the mentally disabled, even if they may have been ostracized by the larger community.
Mental health professionals and faith leaders alike can draw upon this wisdom when they are caring for or ministering to those with mental disabilities. Rather than ostracizing people, they should strive to create an inclusive community, regardless of mental or physical ability. In particular, positive language and attitudes are essential, as contempt or condescension distress rather than help those who are suffering from mental illness.
The Bible also calls for acceptance rather than judgment of those with mental disabilities. Jesus was known for the compassionate way in which he accepted all those around him. Jesus’s acceptance stands in contrast to the many instances of criticism and judgment found in the Bible. For example, when Christ encountered the paralyzed man, he did not judge but instead responded to him with kindness and empathy. “Jesus said to him, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’.” This example demonstrates the power of acceptance, regardless of mental or physical ability.
Mental health professionals can take Jesus’s words to heart and strive to create an environment in which those with mental disabilities are accepted and appreciated, not judged or criticized. Faith leaders can help foster this understanding in the congregation, through activities or discussions that emphasize the importance of acceptance. These measures can help create a more inclusive and compassionate community, one in which mental disability is accepted, not scorned or feared.
The Bible also calls for understanding of those with mental disabilities. Jesus frequently interacted with mentally disabled individuals, for he was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3. This verse reveals that Jesus was in a unique position to understand the feelings and emotions of those with mental health issues.
Mental health professionals should strive to follow Jesus’s example and strive to truly understand their patients rather than making assumptions or judgments. In order to do so, it is important to spend time listening and understanding the individual. Faith leaders, too, should take the time to understand the stories and personal experience of those with mental health issues. This understanding can be incredibly powerful, as it allows them to better understand and connect with those who are suffering.
Grace and Forgiveness
The Bible calls for forgiveness and grace rather than punishment or exclusion, when dealing with those with mental health issues. Christ taught that we should “forgive, seventy times seven” Matthew 18:22. This is a reminder that mental health issues, like any disability, should be responded to with grace and mercy, rather than judgment or punishment.
Mental health professionals should be mindful of this call to grace and understanding, striving to ensure that their patients are not dismissed or judged, but rather given the care and compassion they need and deserve. Faith leaders should likewise strive to respond to those with mental disabilities with forgiveness and grace, rather than harsh judgment or punishment.
Reaching Out with Love
The Bible calls for love and support when dealing with those who are suffering from mental disabilities. Jesus was known for his compassionate and loving approach to those who were suffering, and he called his followers to emulate this example. For instance, Jesus tells his followers to “love your neighbor as yourself” Matthew 22:39. This is a reminder that we should be extending love and support to those around us, regardless of mental or physical ability.
Mental health professionals and faith leaders alike should strive to reach out to those with mental disabilities with love and understanding. This could take the form of providing necessary resources and support, or simply offering a listening ear. In any case, by reaching out with love rather than contempt, we can build an inclusive community and support those in need.
Improved Access to Resources
The Bible also calls for improved access to resources for those who are suffering from mental disabilities. Jesus was well aware of the lack of resources available to those in need, and he called upon his disciples to make sure that those who were vulnerable were provided for.
Mental health professionals should strive to improve access to resources for those with mental disabilities. This may include advocating for increased funding for mental health support, or raising awareness of existing services. Faith leaders also have a role to play in this process, encouraging their congregations to work to support those in need.
Overall, the Bible calls for each of us to care for and accept those with mental disabilities. Mental health professionals and faith leaders must work together to ensure these principles are followed, creating an inclusive community in which those with mental disabilities are not judged or excluded but rather accepted and appreciated. Through our efforts, we can create a more understanding and compassionate society, one that truly values the contributions of all.