I am writing this from Chicago, IL, where I am attending MCC General Conference 2013: Believe!
MCC, we can be love to people with mental health problems.
This has been my first General Conference and I have loved every minute of being with you! I am reignited in my passion for MCC and for our holy calling. The world needs MCC and I can’t wait to get the work done.
MCC has been at the forefront of liberation since the first meetings, 45 years ago. We stand with those who are oppressed and downtrodden; those who have lived with HIV and died from AIDS complications, those who are beaten or raped for who they are, and everyone who has ever felt stigma and shame for being fully who they were made to be.
I have mental health difficulties. I have had a diagnosable mental health problem since the age of ten. I am lucky to live in the United Kingdom, where treatment is freely available. Even there, it can take years to access the appropriate treatment, and stigma is rife. Pastoral education in this area is limited, and the churches in the UK are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of complex emotional and behavioural difficulties. This is not just a problem that affects MCC, but we can be a revolution in this area, if we are prepared to work and to learn.
In the UK, 1 in 6 of the “millennials” self-harms. Amongst the LGBT community that figure is reported as 1 in 2, and it is growing, so that the problem is likely to be a much more pronounced amongst the digital natives. The statistics reported in the rest of the English speaking world are very similar.
If we are to truly be love and justice in the UK, we need to be love to the people with mental health difficulties. We need to recognise that some challenging behaviours are symptoms of illness and should be dealt with as such. We can be meaningful to people whose hope has deserted them, who are unable to speak for themselves. We can be Christ, MCC, if we reach out to these marginalised children of our living God.