Throughout history, anger has proved to be an instrument of change. It leads to revolutionary action that can upend unjust social structures. Mahatma Gandhi was incensed with the state of his Indian nation, where his countrymen were made to feel inferior under British rule. Some years later, Nelson Mandela felt the same way when the Afrikaners of South Africa, treated his black countrymen as an inferior race, unworthy of respect. Even giving them an education was considered a waste. They were thought to be unlikely to amount to anything anyway.

And then there’s Jesus, he who we try to follow. Jesus wasn’t meek and mild as some of us were led to believe.  Jesus was the greatest revolutionary to have lived, changing the status quo of his day, pretty well turning the world upside down with the changes he brought about. He recognized injustice when no one else could see there was anything wrong.

It has me thinking. Isn’t it time someone got angry about some of the injustices in the world today that are being overlooked by the masses? Shouldn’t we be angry about how a big part of our population—one in five—are being treated as inferior because they have mental health issues? Illnesses they cannot help but are being made to feel ashamed about. Are conditions any better for them than those for whom Gandhi and Mandela fought? We should be angry about these injustices in the way they got angry.

When it is learned that a person has been diagnosed with a mental illness, they are feared by many, shunned, excluded, not given the kind of respect others receive. They are looked down on, not given credibility. Not believed. With attitudes such as these held against them, they are held back from much they could do with their lives. Doors are closed. It hurts. And it’s not fair.

Would Jesus stand by and allow this to happen to people who are already suffering?

When we look carefully at these views that exist towards people with mental illness, doesn’t it look a lot like the kind of discrimination Gandhi and Mandela’s people suffered from? And yet, even today, in this world that is trying so hard to reduce stigma, the wrong is not recognized. People accept the situation because it’s always been that way. They don’t see it as an injustice.

What’s the point of trying to change things, they might think? It’s always been like this. How could it possibly change now? And so, they accept the status quo. It’s more comfortable to do so. Why mess with it at this point?

But we are talking about real people. As real as any others. They deserve to be a vital part of our world. Although all may seem hopeless, there are things that can be done to improve the situation. The Church in particular, those who know the love of God and know how to share it, are in a prime position to make a difference.

It’s time for us to invite Jesus to reveal himself and his teaching afresh to the Church and bring justice to the outcasts of today.

Christians have been learning a lot about mental illnesses of all kinds. They have been learning how to provide support to those in their midst who suffer. But more could be done to make the people they care for feel they are worthy human beings, able to live as equals among them. They need more than being cared for alone.

What can the Church do that it’s not already doing? With God’s help, we can give them opportunities to:

  • have their confidence built up by being treated as equals,
  • be encouraged to feel good about themselves, with opportunities to use their gifts,
  • be inspired to grow, spiritually and otherwise,
  • have opportunities to give, rather than only being on the receiving end, (It’s a fact that the giver is often more blessed than those who receive.)
  • be treated as an equal, by being included in activities,
  • be listened to and heard,
  • be taken as seriously as others are,
  • listen to our voices as we tell about our pain and our stories,
  • strive for understanding.