Mental health affects many people. It’s not something to be ashamed of but is something that we can get through and find hope, healing and even lasting change.
A report by Mind UK found that 1 in 4 people in England will experience a mental health issue. 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week (such as anxiety or depression). Although mental health issues aren’t specifically increasing in general, people are dealing with mental health issues in more serious ways, such as self-harm or suicidal thoughts.
Football, Prince William and our Mental Health’
When we look around us, we see a world and people who can be quite damaged and in need of support. On a BBC TV documentary (aired 28 May 2020), Prince William looked at how football deals with mental health issues and encouraged football as a whole to think more seriously about mental health issues.
In the documentary called ‘Football, Prince William and our Mental Health‘ saw interviews with various footballers. One man saw mental health problems increase after his partner had depression and he suffered a job loss. Another man suffered when his parents split up when he was younger. The documentary saw a real restoration between father and son who both apologised to each other – this brought a real healing.
Helping others and helping yourself
Is there somebody you need to forgive or a situation that you could make right today? Sometimes mental health problems are caused by not dealing with something or by something broken in our lives that could be fixed.
For all of the guys, playing in a local football team helped them. The man who lost a young baby set up a football team for other fathers in the same situation. Being with other guys and talking had helped all of them cope and deal with mental health issues better.
If you are feeling upset about something, it is good to share this and not keep things bottled up. In the words of Shrek ‘better out than in’! By talking we share problems and as the phrase famously says, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved.’ Just make sure you can trust the person you’re talking to! One Premier League footballer revealed how he pays a psychologist to help him deal with the pressures he faces.
With all issues in life, it can be good to think about what triggers mental health issues. If you can do this, it may help you to deal with the problem or even stop the issue at the source. Is there a way you can do something to stop a mental health issue getting out of hand?
You can choose what to think about – good or bad
The Bible encourages people to ‘take every thought captive.’ Imagine that someone is trying to break into your house, you wouldn’t open the door and invite them in. Or imagine you’ve trapped a burglar in a room. You wouldn’t let them out and say ‘crack on and take what you like.’ But sometimes this is what we do with our thoughts. Don’t let anxious thoughts dominate you if you don’t have to.
The Bible also talks about thinking of what is ‘good and true and trustworthy’. So it’s good to know that we can choose our thoughts. Choose to think about things that are good, full of hope. You don’t have to think any old rubbish and you can choose to say ‘no’ (even say it out loud) when negative thoughts come.
For other people it is more complex and we may need to ask for professional help. It’s good to know that “it’s OK to not be OK.” None of us have it all together. All the famous celebrities and sports stars are often struggling more than people like you and I. We all struggle because we are all human. And it’s OK to ask for help – it’s a sign of strength not of weakness.
Ask God for his help
The boxer Tyson Fury really struggled with his mental health after winning his first world championship boxing match. He gained lots of weight, abused alcohol and drugs and his mental health went so low that he was seconds from ending his own life. He was going to crash into a bridge but heard a voice saying “Don’t do this, you’re going to destroy your family’s life” so he stopped. He stated that he gives thanks to God and says that “Without my faith I would have committed suicide that day.” He still has bad days but writes that “I learn to maintain (his mental health) by thinking positively and being around positive people.” When he won his 2019 title bout against Deontay Wilder he immediately credited Jesus.Good News Paper, Summer 2020, page 6
The Bible says that in the world it’s like we’re in a war. We sometimes do what we don’t want to do – and don’t do what we do want to do! In this war we have an enemy who wants to rob and kill and destroy. But God says that he comes to give you life and to give you a really full life. Don’t allow yourself to be robbed and destroyed. God can bring you hope. All you need to do is ask God for help. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done or what you think. Just ask him. Choose life and hope today.