Elijah, The Tishbite – Let’s Talk About Mental Health is a project based on the mental health challenge of Prophet Elijah as documented in the Bible in 1 Kings 19: 1 – 21. The project will explore the strategies he went through to experience a recovery and continue with his profession and life. The project aims to provide equivalent strategies that are applicable in current times to address mental health conditions.
The focal points the project will use to initiate the discussion about mental health are:
- Mental health challenges have no barriers – it affects everyone irrespective of their gender, race, age, social status, ethnicity, education, and faith. Elijah, a prophet in the Bible was recorded as having a mental health challenge bordering on stress, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
- Elijah acknowledged his mental health breakdown seeking help to address it.
- Elijah recovered from his mental health challenge.
Our vision through this project is to foster a healthy engagement between the Christian faith and science using mental health as the basis for the interaction.
In this project, we plan to create a conducive forum to talk about and seek help for mental health conditions, to promote the following:
- Create more awareness about mental health conditions.
- Address stigma issues surrounding mental health in Christianity and our communities.
- Encourage more people to seek help to address mental health conditions.
Some of the key questions and topics we intend to address include:
- Elijah’s role as a prophet of God did not shield him from experiencing a mental health challenge implying being a Christian is not a barrier to mental health challenges.
- Elijah acknowledged his condition and sought help from the only person he knew (God). In current times, in addition to Christian resources, there are scientific and medical practices and expertise to help in addressing mental health challenges.
- A significant topic we aim to address is removing stigma from mental health challenges. We intend to address this using Elijah’s experience with God, who it is documented did not stigmatised Elijah’s mental health breakdown nor abandon him; rather Elijah was supported through specific steps to rediscover his identity and recover from the mental health challenge.
- A vital topic the project intends to address is the issue of identity. In the bible story, Elijah was introduced as the Tishbite but as the story develops, his identity evolves from the Tishbite, to a prophet, a spiritual and political activist, a fugitive, a change agent, a national faith reformer, a stressed, depressed, and suicidal man, a renewed, revived, and restored prophet, and a mentor.
The overall identity of Elijah is a man, called into public ministry who experienced the challenges of life and needed support from relationship structures both with humans and with God. Knowing your identity aids the process to discover purpose and motivates a person to work at achieving it.
Elijah, The Tishbite – Let’s Talk About Mental Health is funded with a grant from the Scientists in Congregations programme run by Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science (ECLAS), Durham.