Dear Friend, This week the CDC released the first definitive quantitative study on the mental health toll of the pandemic on Americans. I have said (repeatedly) the church’s response to mental illness is one of the most important apologetics issues of our time.
This Sunday, August 16, I will be speaking at 9:00 and 10:45 am (eastern) at Harbor Light Community Church in beautiful Northern, MI (I will be teaching LIVE from Houston where the heat index is over 100F!). Please join us for the services, where I will address the six adjectives, two nouns, and one verb that guarantee God’s peace in your life! Website for LIVE stream: https://hlcc.online.church
CDC: One-quarter of young adults contemplated suicide during pandemic (June 2020 Report). Pastors and concerned Christian Thinkers please review the full report, here.
The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey (10.7%) was significantly higher among respondents aged 18–24 years (25.5%).
The toll is falling heaviest on young adults, caregivers, essential workers, and minorities. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are skyrocketing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study completed in June by the CDC suggests. The mental health challenges are, by far, revealing that fear of the virus is more dangerous and damaging than the virus itself. Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States from April–June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.
– 30.9 percent of respondents said they had symptoms of anxiety or depression. – 26.3 respondents reported trauma and stress-related disorder because of the pandemic. Another 13.3 percent of respondents said they have turned to substance use, including alcohol and prescription or illicit drugs, to cope with stress from the pandemic. What are the “drivers of adverse mental and behavioral health during COVID-19”? According to the CDC, contributing factors to the sharp rise in mental pain may be attributed to social isolation, absence of school structure, unemployment, and other financial worries, and various forms of violence (e.g., physical, emotional, mental, or sexual abuse) serve as additional stressors.
What can we do immediately?
#1 Talk to Someone. ACCESS THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE If you or someone you know needs , contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This number should be saved in your phone contacts. “Like” the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Facebook page. This phenomenal organization interfaces with Facebook to geographically pinpoint suicidal comments on Facebook and intervenes with responses to provide assistance.
#2 Stop the Silence. The real problem we currently face is that people see Christianity as an answer to yesterday’s questions, and hence of no relevance today. What we need to do is translate our faith language into what C. S. Lewis calls the “cultural vernacular.” We need actually to think about how we translate our faith language into today’s language but also answer the questions people are asking. They are still asking deep questions about meaning, about value. One of the questions our culture is asking is this: Do I really matter? Science might tell us how we came to be here; faith tells me why I am here. If you are a pastor, you must address mental wellness from the pulpit. If you lead Christian education, your Bible study groups must address mental wellness from a biblical worldview. If you are a Christian leader, you must know how to discuss the life and health of the mind. If you are a parent, you certainly need to know how to identify mental health issues with your children. As a parent, you must also know the message of Jesus is the way to peace and happiness. This is a message our kids need today. If you are an educator, you already know how important this issue is and why we must be conversant. Before we can become conversant and have the confidence to address issues related to mental wellness, we must be educated by what the Bible says about the Shalom of God in our lives. We also need to know coping methods and intervention steps.
#3 The Church is Central in the Healing Equation. A wide range of research persuasively shows individuals experiencing psychological distress are more likely to seek from clergy (a pastor, priest, or rabbi) before any other professional group, including mental health experts. This reveals what you may already know, the church is central in the healing equation for the multitudes who are seeking peace and joy but struggling with anxiety. There is a great opportunity for Christian leaders and the global church to be present ministering to the afflicted, but as Saint Paul said, “there are many adversaries” (1 Cor 16:9). Some of the most vocal adversaries, sadly, come from within certain Christian circles. This must stop. It is okay to ask for and talk to someone. We also need to pray for our leaders. Some Christian leaders are not capable or prepared to minister through this mental pain crisis. Why? Because many of them – are themselves – barely coping and suffer in silence.
#4 Rediscover a theology of Shalom. Next to Jesus, Shalom is the most powerful word in the Scriptures. We have missed the mark in passing on what I call a “theology of Shalom” in our Christian lives. Jesus had a famous sermon called the Sermon the Mount (see Matthew 5–7). There’s no doubt he preached this sermon more than once. It was effective. If you don’t understand a theology of Shalom in your life, you may have missed the entire point of the Sermon on the Mount. While this book is not an exegesis for Jesus’s famous sermon (there are more books on the sermon than one can count!), we do stand on the foundation Jesus laid, as God’s son, which is a theological blueprint presupposing peace and happiness (or shalom), that is sorely lacking in so many Christian lives today. God wants us to experience joy and that’s what we experience when we have a faith in God that is guided by the facts of Scripture. The words “joy” and “rejoice” occur almost 300 times in Scripture. Several times in his letter to the Christians of Philippi, Paul speaks of joy and urges the people to rejoice. This is what the Psalmist says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps 37:4).
Would you please pray for me as I finish my next book The Spirituality of Happiness and Peace (published by Baker/Bethany House) – what does it mean for God’s people to have Shalom? Do you have His peace? At times, I feel like I am a professional worrier! You might feel that way, too. God wants to unleash his Shalom into our lives. I will submit the manuscript to the publisher, Lord willing, on September 1.
I have included some very important links below. Please stay informed. Be a conversant Christian Thinker! Let’s also stay in prayer.
Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
Christian Thinkers Society