Are you OK?
Has anyone asked you that question lately? If not, I am asking you today because I care.
Mental and emotional health is one of the most challenging issues facing our culture today. One in five adults suffers from mental illness, yet only half who suffer will ever seek treatment. As a culture, and even in the church in general, we have placed a stigma on mental and emotional health. Too many people are afraid to speak up.
The stats are alarming*.
- The average time lapse between initial symptoms of mental illness and treatment is 11 years!
- Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34 in the US.
- The overall suicide rate has increased by 31% since 2001.
- The suicide rate among our veterans is twice as high as the general public.
- At least 8.4 million people in the US provide care for another adult with a mental or emotional health issue.
- These caregivers spend an average of 32 hours per week providing unpaid care.
As a pastor, it breaks my heart that so many people suffer in silence. I want people to feel comfortable about letting someone know they are struggling.
So, what are we, the church, supposed to do?
For the month of November, we focused on the issues of mental and emotional health. We took the time to shine the heart of God on topics that may be difficult to talk about. We preached sermons. Brave members of our church families shared their stories. We recorded podcast interviews. We held our first ever mental health seminar with 150 attendees.
Over these weeks, countless people came forward for help. Many of them for the very first time felt comfortable enough to let the people around them know that they were not OK.
Even though the series has ended, our work is only beginning. We need to keep the conversations about mental health going. If you missed the series, or if you do not attend Palm Valley Church but would like to check out some of the resources, check out the page www.palmvalley.org/areyouok for links to the teaching series, podcast episodes, testimonies and more.
If you or someone you know suffers with mental or emotional health, I believe you will be encouraged through this series. There are practical applications for you and connections to additional resources. You will also learn how we, as followers of Jesus, can care for our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering in this area.
*All mental health statistics taken from The National Alliance on Mental Illness, (https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers)