After a long, cold, dark winter most of us are enjoying the warm sunshine of spring. The new season puts a bounce in our step and gives us renewed hope of brighter days ahead. For Christians, the Easter season also gives amazing hope in new life. This hope renews us and gives us strength to go on in the midst of many difficult circumstances.
However, often in the lives of those experiencing mental illnesses and their families and loved ones, hope is not there. The suffering seems unbearable and darkness is part of every day. The light is missing and there is no sunshine even in the brightest of spring and summer days.
Mental illnesses are real and are as much a part of life as other illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Someone who has depression, or another mood disorder such as anxiety, bipolar, or obsessive compulsive disorder, is overtaken by a negative outlook or thoughts which they cannot control on their own. Schizophrenia disrupts one’s perception of reality and instead gives delusions, hallucinations and psychosis. Posttraumatic stress interferes with a person’s ability to cope with a past trauma. Without proper treatment these illnesses do not go away and may get worse, just like cancer and heart disease.
One in five persons will experience a mental illness within their lifetime. Stigma about mental illnesses can remain strong in both faith communities and the larger community, and the isolation that often accompanies mental distress is also a reality within the faith communities.
Treatment is available and needs to be encouraged. Support from a loving family, friends and community is also powerful and needs to be provided. We are often excellent at providing support for someone with cancer or heart disease but sometimes we do not feel as well equipped to support someone with mental illness.
This is where Sunshine From Darkness can help. Sunshine From Darkness is Shalem’s service of education and information for people and communities interested in resources and in learning more about mental illness. This program provides up to date information to individuals, families and communities about specific mental illnesses, as well as information about where to go for support and on how to navigate the mental health system.
Sunshine From Darkness can be reached by calling 905-623-9901 or by emailing June. Sometimes information can be provided quickly through a phone call or e-mail request. Other times it may require some time for research or to connect you to community resources available in your area. Sometimes the support is through providing education through group workshops or through helping faith communities set up their own support network or support group. We want to tailor the help to meet your needs as much as possible.
Sunshine From Darkness is here to provide hope—a glimmer of sunshine in the midst of the darkness of mental illness, and remind people that help is available.