You have probably heard me say the following before, but it bears repeating.

Much is being done to reduce stigma. But reducing stigma is not nearly enough. Something important is being overlooked. The voices of those who are to benefit, those with lived experience, are not being heard. And it’s those voices that need to be listened to more than any other. If what they live with is to improve, they need to be heard and understood. Only then can we give them the kind of help they need.

If we were to listen to what they have to say, these are some of the hurtful situations we would hear them tell about: “We are looked down on; we are not understood; our truths are not believed; we are shunned, rejected, excluded; our intellect is often underrated; our opinions are not respected; we are not taken seriously in the way others are.”

The above amounts to dehumanization, causing untold suffering for individuals with lived experience. And yet, unlike other mental health needs, there’s no treatment for it. No medications, no coping skills, nor secular counselling. In my work supporting people with mental health conditions, I’ve come to see that the best help available comes through spiritual means, with the support of those who know Jesus and his love—those who follow his ways.

Jesus came for the stigmatized of biblical times. They were healed by the power of his love. He reached out to the leper, the blind man, the  prostitute. He called out to a lonely tax collector and changed him, simply by spending time with him.

How can we as Christians follow in Christ’s foot steps?

If you are a follower who wants to share God’s love with those who need him, take time to learn what you can about Jesus by reading the gospels. Who was he, what was he like, what did he do, how did he do it? Get to thoroughly know him. Let him speak into your life as you go through your days. Fully absorb the love he has for you and share it with others in your life. Walk with Jesus as you would walk with a friend. Talk with him.

Be a witness to how Jesus treated people the world wanted nothing to do with. Let him be an example for you in your relations with stigmatized individuals in your world today. Adopt his spirit—his heart of love, especially for those who are hurting.

As you walk with this Friend, your heart open to him, your own love for hurting people will grow. His ways will become your ways.


STAY TUNED. Very very soon we will start looking at the practical ways you can help your friends overcome some of the pain that stigma has caused in their life.