By Kim Williams, Member in Discernment
May is Mental Health Month. It’s the month when stigma is erased, people stop using “crazy” as an adjective to describe the long line at Save Mart, and people with mental health concerns are
appreciated for the unique perspective they bring to the world.
Well, a girl can dream anyway. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need a designated month to talk about mental health. It would be as commonly accepted to say “I am wading through the murky waters of depression” as “My blood sugar is low, I need to grab a snack” or “My allergies are soooooo bad today.” Alas, as a society we’re not quite there yet. Here’s the good news: as a church we can be!
Eliminating language like “crazy” from our vocabulary is one way to make an impact. It takes practice, and while you start combing the thesaurus for a better word, you’ll stumble on all the other words like “psycho” or “insane” that might be used in conversation. We say these things all the time without connecting them back to harmful stigma attached to mental health. We’ll say how, “insanely good that dinner was” or “my 4-year-old went psycho after she ate all the chocolate in her Easter basket” without even working through the weight of those words. I still struggle with finding better words that harm no one, but every time I catch myself I know I’m another step closer to finding better words and creating a safer, more inclusive space.
Watching our words is just one way we can work on erasing stigma in our community of faith. If you’d like to join me in a conversation about ways we can “Widen the Welcome” at the Big Red Church, I’ll be hosting a learning circle on Mental Health Sunday—May 19th—in the Heritage Room at 11:30. I’ll have a stack of resources from the UCC Mental Health Network and we can talk about what it would take to make our beloved church home even more inclusive and welcoming.