mental health

‘I am getting help now’

Guerres Lucien, outside her home in Lahoye, Haiti, is a participant in an MCC-supported community mental-health project with partner Zanmi Lasante, the Haitian branch of Partners in Health. (Photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

Noel Derenis, centre, who has major depression, stands outside her home in Lahoye, Haiti, with her team of community mental health workers Joseph Benissois, left, and Saint-Hilaire Olissaint, who have helped Derenis to regain energy to care for herself and her family. (Photo by Paul Shetler Fast)

“Close your eyes and imagine you are walking to your garden,” says Saint-Hilaire Olissaint, a community mental-health worker. His calm, soothing voice carries over the din of the nearby street market and the curious chatter of the children watching nearby.

Holding out the Christ-light 

"I will hold the Christ-light for you / in the night-time of your fear. / I will hold my hand out to you, / speak the peace you long to hear." (Image by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

“We can all have good mental health. It is about having a sense of purpose, strong relationships, feeling connected to our communities, knowing who we are, coping with stress and enjoying life,” says a statement by the Canadian Mental Health Association. 

Avoiding avoidance

Avoidance may temporarily decrease your stressor, but it doesn’t solve the actual problem. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

There are strategies you can use to help when you feel overwhelmed. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Facings your fears and stressors will better your life, Laura Abraham writes. (Photo courtesy of Laura Abraham)

Do you ever find yourself starting something and not completing it? If so, then you’re familiar with avoidance behaviours.

‘Acceptance without exception’

‘David and Saul,’ by Ernst Josephson, oil on canvas, 1878

‘David would play his harp, and Saul would feel better. David would mediate the spirit of life and make the evil spirit depart from Saul,’ (Artwork: ‘David and Saul,’ by Julius Kronberg, oil on canvas, 1885)

“And whenever the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand, and Saul would be relieved and feel better, and the evil spirit would depart from him” (I Samuel 16:23).

David would play his harp, and Saul would feel better. David would mediate the spirit of life and make the evil spirit depart from Saul.

Suicide isn’t painless

Nick Brandt, front row second from right, with his family in happier times. (Photo courtesy of the Brandt family)

(Photo courtesy of the Brandt family)

No one saw it coming. Not family, not friends, not anyone at the university he attended. On March 23, 2018, after babysitting his nieces and nephews, 18-year-old Nicholas (Nick) Penner Brandt returned to the apartment he shared with an older brother and twin sister, drank poison and died.

Meeting the mental health needs of students

RJC students writing final exams in the school’s chapel. The pressure of assignments and exams is among the many stresses that can lead to mental health issues for some students. (Photo by Bev Epp)

Are more students struggling with mental health issues these days, or are they just better able to articulate their struggles than students once were? Jim Epp doesn’t know the answer to this question.

‘Poetry and art for mental health’

Adriel Brandt reads his poem “The Crow” at the May 3, 2018, “Art and Poetry for Mental Health” reception in Abbotsford. In the background is the photograph by Dale Klippenstein (sitting behind Brandt) accompanying the work. Communitas Supportive Care Society sponsored the art exhibit, focusing on mental health issues. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Poet Robert Martens shares his work at the Hear and See: Art and Poetry for Mental Health event in Abbotsford, B.C., on May 3, 2018. The exhibit, sponsored by the Communitas Supportive Care Society, gave voice to mental health issues. (Photo by Amy Dueckman)

Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders may not sound like subjects for art, but a recent exhibit at the Reach gallery proved that art is a powerful medium for educating and talking about mental illness.

Depression resurrection

Today begins like any other, the type that has become common for me. I cheerfully get out of bed at a decent time, feed my children a healthy breakfast, tidy up and then do a boring 20 minutes on the elliptical machine while they begin their chores. It may not sound revolutionary, but I marvel at the grace contained in these everyday happenings.

Small-town suicide

I wrote this story two years ago, and since then another suicide has occurred and been mourned, in a neighbouring community. That man I did know. To remember both of these men who left behind wives, children, even grandchildren, today I publish it. Let’s learn how to handle mental illness in the church in a way that embraces rather than isolates.

It is with a heavy heart that I write today, and even now I debated sharing this. I do so because I believe that the story I am about to share is one with a lesson that we, the Mennonite church, need to learn.

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