Thursday, 6 October 2011

Out of solitary places

Mental health and suicide were two of the issues which the Church and Society Council raised at the General Assembly earlier this year.

Two news stories last week have caught my attention and brought be back to look again at the reflections in our reports.

The first is the news of the publication in English of Robert Enke's biography.
Enke was a successful German club goalkeeper, a married father. He suffered from depression and killed himself in 2009. Sadly this is not an unknown story, but Enke's fame, success and celebrity status has meant that a spotlight has been thrown on suicide, and what might be done to support people in desperate need of help.

Suicide is the number one cause of death in young men in Scotland. Our report recommended the play 'Dare 2 Hope' from Cutting Edge Theatre Productions, designed for schools, which helps young people to explore some of these issues.

The second news story was about the increased use of anti depressant drugs as a treatment for mental health issues in Scotland.
This just goes to show that mental health problems remain an important and growing issue of concern. Our report tried to shed some light on this and suggested that local congregations agree a policy or charter for how they approach the issue.

When thinking about mental health issues I often recall the Bible story of Jesus healing the man known as Legion, a man cast out of normal society and tormented by his inner demons (Mark 5: 1-9). Healing is not always an easy process, but by understanding why people become ill and accepting them in society rather than ostracising them is an important way we can demonstrate love and compassion.


  1. Are you suggesting that mental health problems are caused by demon possession?

  2. This blog was timely. I intend to raise the issue with my Kirk Session next week. I was a member of the Samaritans for a number of years and so for me this is a live issue.

  3. I have significant and chronic mental health problems associated with a 'breakdown' about three years ago. My wife, an Elder, was asked to run a church service in the absence and on behalf of the Minister. Feeling led to do the service on a theme of mental health, we had a very powerful service, which touched almost everyone. I spoke about my own experiences, two people involved in mental health chaplaincy spoke of their experiences and prayed a relevant prayer and Diane made biblical links and spoke about how society, and we as a church, might deal with the issue. It was extremely well received. I hope this is useful to know.

  4. Anonymous, in this post I am not suggesting that such things do literally happen, but perhaps inner demons could be seen as a metaphor. Winston Churchill spoke about his own ‘black dog’ of depression. But I am no expert on epidemiology, rather the point I wanted to make was the importance of pastoral care. Thank you for your comments.


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