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Mental Health Matters

Mental Health Matters

by Beth Stoddard

My family plunged into the world of mental illness when a loved one was diagnosed with bipolar disorder over ten years ago. 

We went from being clueless to finding ourselves immersed in a world of psychiatrists, therapists, in-patient behavioral health units, ER visits, prescriptions, side effects, encounters with law enforcement, counselors, support groups, and countless books, websites, articles, and news stories. Looking back, it’s overwhelming to trace our journey; we’ve been through a lot. 

But every experience led to a deeper understanding of what it means to be human, how to accept brokenness, and how to love fiercely. The journey has been deeply spiritual and incredibly formative. We’ve found ourselves educated about something that 20% of our fellow humans go through—so there’s been an uptick in empathy and understanding in our family. And, as we’ve learned to say with gratitude and grace: 

WE’RE STILL HERE.

And our perspective has changed. Just as we are all in some state of physical health, with none of us experiencing anything near perfection, it is imperative that we learn to see mental health through the same lens. 

Just as my physical health might include a few extra pounds, eczema, a Vitamin D deficiency and slightly elevated cholesterol, my mental health may include anxiety, heightened stress, and some negative thought processes. When those few extra pounds progress to the point of high blood pressure or heart disease, it’s time to seek treatment. When negative thoughts become recurrent and debilitating, it’s time to seek treatment. Caring for our health is imperative—physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Exploring options for mental health treatment can be a scary first step, but it’s an important one. Be objective and give yourself and your family a ton of grace. And be confident in this truth: Therapy, medication, self-care, education, and support work together to make stability and recovery a reality for many people experiencing mental illness. 

It can get better. You are not alone. 

The majority of individuals dealing with a mental health issue—for themself or for a loved one—turn to a spiritual leader or their church first for help. If that’s you, here’s what we want you to know: 

  1. We’re glad you are here.

    It takes courage to reach out and begin the conversation—so we’re glad you’ve taken the first step! We believe that mental wellbeing is an essential part of everyone’s spiritual journey, and we treat it as such. People who are dealing with mental illness will never be shunned, mocked, gossiped about, or turned away from our faith community.

  2. You’re not alone.

    One out of every five Americans is diagnosed with a mental illness every year. That’s twenty percent of any group of people. In my immediate family of nine, four of us have sought counseling and treatment for our mental health—we fit right in with that statistic. In any church gathering—virtual or physical—look around: You’re not the only one.

  3. God sees you.

    Regardless of where you might be on your spiritual journey, we believe that God sees and cares about you right now, wherever you are and whatever you’re experiencing. The Bible assures us:“Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” (Psalm 34.17-18, The Message)

  4. Mental health matters.

    It’s complicated, because mental illness affects how we behave, how we think, and how we see ourselves. It can wreak havoc on relationships and the general ideas we have about what it means to be successful and “normal.” But illness is illness—whether mental or physical. Mental health originates in the brain—the most complex and wonderful organ in the human body—influenced by genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Throw in traumatic events, stressful conditions at home or work, biochemical processes, basic brain structure, and the impact of substances and diet; add to the mix an unprecedented worldwide pandemic, social isolation, cultural and political upheaval—it’s not difficult to understand how overwhelming it can be to our brains. Viewed objectively, it’s essential common sense that we view the care and treatment of mental illness just as we would any physical illness.

  5. Treatment is available.

    It can be overwhelming, and frightening; if you’ve never had to seek treatment for mental health, it’s hard to know where to start. But like Mr. Rogers said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” There’s an entire tribe of people who are ready and able to offer treatment, guidance, and support. 

 

RESOURCES

EMERGENCY SERVICES

If a situation is critical, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Richmond-area hospitals with behavioral health units include Chippenham, VCU, St. Mary’s, and Richmond Community Hospital, but in an emergency situation, the nearest ER will provide treatment and guidance. 

CRISIS LINES

Crisis lines are free and confidential. Most are available 24/7.

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE – (800) 273-8255

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE CHAT – suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat

POWHATAN / GOOCHLAND COUNTY CRISIS COUNSELING – (804)598-2697

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY CRISIS COUNSELING – (804)748-6356

FARMVILLE / BUCKINGHAM / CUMBERLAND COUNTY CRISIS COUNSELING – (434)392-8177

CROSSROAD COMMUNITY SERVICES (AMELIA, BUCKINGHAM, CUMBERLAND, NOTTOWAY, PRINCE EDWARD COUNTIES) – (800) 548-1688

RICHMOND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH AUTHORITY CRISIS LINE – (804) 819-4100

NAMI HELPLINE – (800) 950-6264, Monday-Friday, 10am-6pm

NAMI CRISIS – TEXT ‘NAMI’ TO 741741

NAMI

NATIONAL LATINO BEHAVIORAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION

To Write Love On Her Arms https://twloha.com

Jed Foundation https://www.jedfoundation.org

Bipolar Hope https://www.bphope.com

 

COUNSELING

Talk therapy is an essential part of mental health treatment.

IN-PERSON COUNSELING

  • Don Parks,LPC, LMFT- (804) 977-1187 (Henrico) or (804) 467-9000
  • Shepherd’s Staff Counseling (shepherd-staff.org) (804) 327-0707
    • Note: Offering in-person (Richmond), phone and zoom sessions
      • Jennifer Collins
      • Stephen Booth
  • Christian Counseling Associates (christiancounselors4va.com) (804) 592-2793 (Glen Allen)
  • Powhatan Family Counseling (Judy Cain-Oliver) – (804) 598-9577

Sarah Francis – couple and female individual – (804) 833-4904 (meeting at Midlothian Campus)

Hope for Tomorrow Counseling – (434) 392-4073 (Farmville)

New Beginnings Family Counseling – (434) 984-0023 (Charlottesville)

Footsteps Christian Counseling – (804) 715-3215 (Mechanicsville)


VIRTUAL COUNSELING

TALK SPACE

Talkspace’s mission is to make therapy and psychiatry more available and affordable. Our goal is to provide convenient access to licensed providers—to support the mental wellness of those in need.

BETTERHELP

Making professional therapy accessible, affordable, and convenient — so anyone who struggles with life’s challenges can get help, anytime and anywhere.

MYCOUNSELOR.ONLINE
Christian faith-based therapy by licensed professionals.


OTHER RESOURCES

Depression Resources
ARTICLE: God Said Ask For Help

ARTICLE: 11 Things That My Meltdown Taught Me
ARTICLE: Confession & Personal Inventory

Categories: Mental Health  Self  

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Written by

Beth Stoddard

Follower of Jesus. Wife. Mom. Grammy. Musician. Teacher. Pastor. Easily comforted by chocolate, coffee or watermelon.

Published October 2, 2021


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