There has always been lots of discussion about the state of our mental health. Ed, my old neighbour, claims most folks are a little wacky or have at least one screw loose. He claims that you will see this, regularly, in our families, at work, at school and in our neighborhoods. My old neighbour steers away from words like deranged and insane because they are too severe to mention flippantly. Most of us, according to Ed, admit to being a little crazy, because that is normal behavior.
Not so many of us are comfortable admitting we have issues with our mental health. I told Ed that hopefully, that is changing, and people are becoming more open about discussing their struggle with depression or stress and other mental health issues. Mental Health Week celebrated each year helps us to go beyond jokes and denial when it comes to mental health concerns.
According to my old neighbour, the problem is everyone thinks they are sane. “Compos Mentis,” is the legal term denoting that an individual is of sound mind and therefore can bear legal responsibility for their actions. One definition of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Another meaning of sanity is the ability to think and behave reasonably and rationally. There can be a thin line between what is real and what is unreal. The way I think and behave may not seem sane and sensible to you.
The Canadian Mental Health Association describes good mental health as having a sense of purpose, healthy relationships, feeling connected to our communities, knowing who we are, coping with stress and enjoying life. It is also having healthy, supportive places to live, work and learn.
In the Bible, we are told of a man Jesus met after they sailed across the sea and landed at Gerasenes, opposite Galilee. The man for a long time had worn no clothes, had not lived in a house, but among the tombs, he had been kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and escape into the desert. He was considered out of his mind. He was a demon-possessed man who was a danger to himself. Jesus commanded the demons or unclean spirits to come out of the man. The unclean spirits entered a herd of pigs, and the pigs rushed into the nearby lake and were drowned.
Those herding the pigs saw what had happened and fled telling everyone in the city and country. People came to see for themselves what had happened and were afraid when they saw the demon-possessed man sitting at the feet of Jesus clothed and in his right mind. They had been fearful of the man when he was out of his mind, and then they were afraid because he was sane. They feared Jesus, who had healed the man and asked Jesus to leave them.
Jesus honoured their request and left, but the man he had healed wanted to go with Jesus and his disciples. Jesus told him, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” That is what the man did he went about proclaiming how Jesus had restored his sanity.