Bishop: Bear Each Other’s Burdens

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. May we, as United Methodists, do all we can every month—and in all the ways we can—to prevent suicide. 

Mental health is physical health. As pastor and author Rev. Sarah Griffith Lund reminds us, “Our brains are part of our bodies, and mental health is at the center of who we are as human beings.” As Christians, we believe in the sacred worth of all people. The mental health crisis in our communities is a reality that begs for more attention from the faith community.

Rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and thoughts of suicide have increased. The varied ways we experience conflict and stress has made the need for more intentional commitment to caring for the whole person apparent. 

According to an article in MedStar Health*, “COVID-19 worsened the alarming trends in children and teens. From March to October 2020, children’s visits to the emergency room for mental health conditions increased 31% for those 12 –17 years old and 24% for children ages 5-11 compared to the same period in 2019.”

Forty million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. Mental Health America reports 16% of youth are currently experiencing major depression. What about your family? What about your church?

I pray we will join the choir that sings a new song of love over stigma and help over holding secrets. I invite you in this season to be compassionate with yourselves and with others. I encourage conversations, the help of counseling, and the beauty of true friendship that allows children, youth, and adults to say, “I need help.”

I applaud the Children Matter Most committee for spreading the word that we can do more. Let us become Ambassadors of Hope, willing listeners, and advocates for those in crisis who want to know that the Church is for them; we love them; and we will open doors of support as we walk with them.

“Carry each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” Galatians 6:2 (CEB)

If you need help, tell someone you trust. If you are struggling, you can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Help is available 24 hours. 

Be encouraged,

Bishop Julius C. Trimble
Resident Bishop
Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church
*”Research Commentary: COVID-19 Worsened the Mental Health Crisis for Young Children, Too” published on June 26, 2023