In A Place of Refuge

Escaping leads to isolation and trying to find hope in things that don’t make a difference.

It’s a proven fact that a community can be sustained as long as the people continue to build each other up and continue to do so even when one person stuffs up in a major way. In a place of refuge (not escape) we hear each other out and help where we can.

Mental health stigma has been an issue for a very long time. More than two decades ago when someone would appear to have an indication of a mental illness deficit they’d be sent to a psych ward and treated accordingly; basically, treating mental illness either like the common cold or a very serious life threatening condition. Now there are some illnesses that require medication and without it the illness would flourish in a negative way, but how people were treated back then was completely inhumane.

Yet even in today’s culture most people with mental illnesses are treated like outcast second class people. Depression is thought to be this odd thing that people shouldn’t have if you’ve got a roof over your head, dinner every night and breakfast every morning. People wonder, ‘Why the hell do you have depression?’

The thing is half of what some people see as an excuse is actually a medically diagnosed condition. A chemical imbalance in a persons brain. Which is something they never asked for and something they can’t heal overnight. Most often we forget that there’s a person beyond the condition, and if we continue to treat them poorly we’ll never find the compassion to love them fully.

Just last century it was common and a regular practice to treat mental illness as a disease. People were thrown into isolation because they were looked at in a negative light and the same thing happened to people with disabilities. They were basically cast aside and treated like freaks. Disabilities were treated very poorly and truly negatively.

Thank God that in today’s society there are a lot of options for people with disabilities, like employment and the ability to study and also live out of home away from parents – which years ago was something unheard of.

I think its because people change and our attitudes change.  But there’s still a massive cloud surrounding mental health – I’m not saying that’s the only one, because in some parts of the world there’s still racism and bullying of people from other cultures and countries – however I think the stigma towards mental health is a black cloud that lingers in the silence and it devours the people we avoid relationship with.

People just want someone to believe in them and someone to love them. If we take soup and comfort to a friend not feeling well, surely we can bring compassion and relationship to those who have a mental illness?

Much love, Shaun

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