I speak with the love that Jesus, in his gospels, taught us to have for those the world wanted nothing to do with. I speak for my brothers and sisters.

It is a well-known fact that people with mental health issues suffer a lot of stigma. But little attention is paid to the pain this stigma causes. This pain is greatly underestimated and  largely ignored.

Stigma can take the form of the obvious—mistreatment, rejection, exclusion, shunning, and many other experiences, all causing emotional damage that could affect victims for their entire lives.

But most are not aware that people with mental health challenges are being made to suffer in other ways as well—suffering that cannot be fathomed by those who don’t experience it. Christians must open their eyes and their ears and learn to understand these perspectives. With help from friends, working through Jesus and his love, healing is possible.

When we are diagnosed with a mental illness and we realize what the world thinks about people like us, we start feeling the pain of stigma. This pain should not be confused with the pain caused by the illness. They are two different things.

It affects how you feel about yourself as a person—your self-esteem, your confidence, your courage, your hope. For some, the way the world looks down on you takes away from what you had always thought God had said about you. Many feel robbed of everything that had made them feel they had worth.

How would you feel if you were not considered as worthy as others? Not worth listening to, not worth believing, not worthy of kindness, not worthy of being considered like others, not worthy of friendship, not worthy of having the ideas God has given you considered seriously, not worthy of helping the world become a better place, not worthy of bringing Christ’s healing to those who suffer?

My recent book, In the Name of Jesus, helps build understanding by giving examples of the pain caused by stigma. It shows how friends can, through Jesus, help bring sufferers the spiritual support they need to bring healing.

In the name of Jesus, let us love one another and appreciate each other for who we are.