Loving our brothers and sisters who work in mental health services

Anna is a mental health nurse who is part of your church family. She loves the Lord and loves people. She became a nurse so she could spend time with people and she loves that her job means she gets to know her patients’ stories. Anna’s job is emotionally draining, hearing about some very difficult struggles that people are going through. At times she is trying to work with people who might not want to see her. Anna’s shift work is making getting  to church weekly and getting to a mid-week group regularly difficult. Her work has got harder due to the pandemic. She is going into people’s homes exposing herself to catching COVID-19, and team meetings are now virtual which does not give the same emotional support as in-person meetings. The latest lockdown has compounded Anna’s sense of isolation as she seeks to serve the people God has put in her path through her job.

How can we love Anna well?

1 John 4 tells us that we love others because God first loved us, and he demonstrated that love for us by sending Jesus into the world to die in our place. That we have been loved by God is our motivation for loving Anna. How did Jesus demonstrate his love for us? By giving up the splendour and majesty of heaven and entering into our messy and broken world. He drew alongside his disciples and spent time with them.

But lockdown during COVID-19 has made it difficult to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ as we can’t meet up with each other as we normally would. Even where church services are happening in person, we can’t chat so there isn’t opportunity for fellowship.

So how might we draw alongside Anna, within the physical constraints of our current situation?

  • We can be praying for Anna to continue to be rooted and built up in Christ and that she would be continuing to grow in her love and knowledge of Christ.
  • We could send her a text or a voice message asking “How can I pray for you?” Or send links to songs full of gospel truth, maybe particularly on Sundays so that if she is working she can be reminded that her citizenship is in heaven even when she is at work.
  • Anna is working in a very secular environment, governed by Nursing and Midwifery Council regulations, and will probably be feeling a degree of internal tension between what she believes the Bible says about certain topics and the secular views people assume she holds as a mental health nurse. We could go for a walk, 1-to-1, with Anna and ask her how she finds being a Christian working in mental health services, and listen to the particular struggles she faces.
  • We might remind Anna that Jesus suffered the most awful death and he understands the suffering she sees in her patients’ lives, and how it distresses her.
  • We can help Anna to identify what is her responsibility and what is the Lord’s responsibility so she doesn’t feel so burdened by her work.
  • We could make a note to follow up our conversation in a few weeks’ time, so that we don’t just ask her once and leave it at that.
  • If we have more time than normal due to lockdown maybe we could look out for some Christian blogs or prayers to share with her.

Gentle encouragements like these, pointing our brothers and sisters serving in the health service to Jesus and to their identity is in Christ, are ways we can love them well. And what better way to show our thanks for them and all they are doing at the moment, than to encourage them in their walk with the Lord.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30