My local hospital has been undergoing a big refurbishment. They have been building new wards for mental health patients. I find it sad that this is happening.
The new building for outpatients is called Trinity, and I assume it’s because there is a Trinity Church and a Trinity Road in the locality. It got me thinking about the connection between mental health care and religion.
How would Jesus view the new inpatient wards that are being built? How would he view the way mental health patients are treated, the use of medication to target what is often described as chemical imbalances in the brain?
As we all know, Jesus was a healer. Medication for mental health patients would probably be an alien idea to him. If he could see the suffering of patients who are forced to take medications that often damage the body, I think he would be deeply troubled. It’s a sad truth that medication is over-prescribed, especially on psychiatric wards, while talking therapy, which could really help patients, is not generally prioritised.
Of course, nothing happens aside from the will of God. It is part of His activity in creation that these wards have been built. It seems to me that God often uses suffering to refine and teach people certain things, and it’s important to recognise that on one level these wards are part of God’s plan, and God’s plan reflects His loving and merciful actions.
From another perspective, Satan is the ruler of our present world and I get the feeling he is responsible for so much of the suffering that patients on mental health wards experience. These are troubling times for Earth and healthcare in certain situations has become less about compassion and healing and more about power and money. Healthcare has increasingly become an industry, and companies cannot make money unless their medicines are used. The more their medicines are used, the more money they stand to make, so this leads to pressure on doctors to keep prescribing medicines even when the philosophy behind the production of these medicines is unsound.
What can we do about this? We can open up conversations about the true role of the brain in human experience and encourage more humane treatments wherever possible. People usually only struggle with their mental health due to broken relationships and unstable families, and medication does very little to address these issues.
While the church should always be a place of healing, naming buildings that facilitate the activities of an inhumane system ‘Trinity’ – a reference to God Himself – would seem to be an affront to the loving mission that characterises the person and teaching of Jesus.
I long to live in a society where healthcare is truly about love and healing, but it may well be that such a desire will never be fulfilled in our broken world, because God is preparing creation for the coming judgement when we all will be called to account.
May God show mercy and forgive those who are allied with Satan in making the mental health system a place of suffering rather than healing.
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