Mental Health — Remembering God’s Grace in All Things

Remembering God’s Grace in All Things by Janet Siry, LCSW

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4: 6-7

Throughout my years of worship, I have heard this message many times. I believe it and know that God will heal all things in His own way and His own time. Yet, I often find myself in a state of anxiety and forget the promises God made to all believers. I do not think I am unique in this way since I can freely talk about my feelings and realize I am not alone. I recognize that my humanity often supersedes my faith that all will be handled by our loving God

During the pandemic, the world changed. Many thought this would be a short term change yet many are still suffering from the after effects of illness, isolation and societal changes. Mental illness statistics support the belief that there has been a worldwide increase in mental health challenges. Many organizations including World Health Organization, Unicef, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), American Psychological Association (APA), and prestigious hospitals and medical publications including Mayo Clinic, John Hopkins Medicine and the Lancet among others have reported some staggering statistics that cannot be ignored.*

The Statistics On Mental Health Are Staggering

NAMI reports that 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year, 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 (17%)  experience a mental health disorder every year, 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24 and suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people age 10-14. The annual prevalence of mental illness has impacted all demographic groups with the largest increase being reported by Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual persons. Annual prevalence among conditions among U.S. adults are varied. Anxiety Disorders have affected an estimated 48 million adults since 2020.

46.2% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2020, 50.6 % of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016 and the average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years. There is a “ripple effect” regarding the impact these illnesses have on individuals, families and society. The community is impacted by lost earnings, increased substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, youth involved in the juvenile justice system and the breakdown of societal norms.

Young People Are Not Exempt

Because of the disruption in school attendance, youth faced a unique set of challenges. Isolation from peers, adapting to virtual learning and changes in sleep patterns disrupted many routines of family life. Many adults had to adjust to learning new technology, disruption of work routines and child care obligations. Access to care was limited especially in rural areas. Those students who needed school supported services, particularly those from lower socio-economic groups, were unable to access the needed services (reports APA). Teachers may need to address and be trained to recognize the effects of trauma on students and fellow staff members.

The impact of the pandemic has been overwhelming to many aspects of life as we knew it. Some people were unable to comfort sick and dying loved ones because of hospital restrictions and changes in our mourning rituals. Many have lost homes or businesses or are facing ongoing health challenges. Our celebration of milestone events were curtailed, leaving many feeling lonely, frustrated and vulnerable.

Is There Any Good News?

Yes! The good news is that anxiety and depression are treatable illnesses.  Using mindfulness strategies creates self-awareness about how thoughts and feelings are affecting daily life. There are certain techniques that can be employed to lessen the effect of debilitating illness. We are seeking to restore a sense of normalcy and regain some structure in our lives. Creating a routine to our daily lives helps us to restore a sense of equilibrium. Primarily, we must be aware that the mind-body connection is essential. We must engage in self-care practices daily and prioritize good sleep routines, healthy eating habits and exercise. We need to be mindful about substance overuse and monitor our alcohol intake and drug use.

And One More Thing

Remember that the grace of God can restore us to serenity and peacefulness in all things.

Thanks be to God!