Misunderstanding Mental Health.
by Nick Bishop
During a recent Bible study at church, we talked about mental illness. One comment that resonated with the group was how being alone with nature can be therapeutic and help us with stress, anxiety, depression, etc.
It is thought 1 in 4 people suffer from some kind of mental illness in the UK. Given today’s society, that is, perhaps, not surprising.
Mental illness is no respecter of persons, and it has no preference for a person’s background, social status or wealth when it strikes. Thankfully today, there is a greater understanding of the various forms that mental illness can take and how it affects the individual. However, there is still much ignorance and misunderstanding, whether that be from the medical profession or the general public.
Humans like to think that they are superior to all other living things on this planet, and so, can easily become divorced from God’s natural world. But evidence suggests that humans, like other species, are indeed part of the eco-system. While civilization has brought benefits, people still need to connect with nature because that is where we are grounded.
Whether you read the book of Genesis in the Bible or scientific journals on the subject, humans have not always lived in artificial environments. Once, like other species, we lived outdoors, mostly as hunter-gatherers. Then we started laying down the foundation of civilization. Humans then, it seems, lost contact with the natural world, and in doing so, God. To lose the wonder of the creator’s handiwork is a giant step away from what God intended for us.
The apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans teaches that ‘man is without excuse because he can see from what has been made, God’s invisible qualities’. Understanding God’s presence, participation and power in nature, surely, is the first important revelation that someone can have about God.
Eco-therapy can also be a way of helping those suffering from mental illness. This involves various activities where people can access therapies doing various works outside.
It used to be said that when you are in the garden, you are closer to God. People often feel happier and more fulfilled when being outside.
Along with other mental health therapies out there (including in the Christian world) like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), eco-therapy can also be used along with this.
There are many eco-therapy events that you can access through your GP such as:
Animal Assisted Therapy.
Working in Farming.
Man is a God-created being and part of the natural order, so to maintain, a healthy balance, he must experience creation for the betterment of the mind as well as the physical body.
How then should Christians approach mental health, here is some food for thought from the Bible:
Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace”.
Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”.
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest”.
God bless you xxx.
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