There is no single definition of the concept of recovery for people with mental health problems, but the guiding principle is hope – the belief that it is possible for someone to regain a meaningful life, despite serious mental illness. Recovery is often referred to as a process, outlook, vision, conceptual framework or guiding principle.
The Christian message is full hope. This is what we offer and yet we so often keep the gospel all to ourselves. The word that best describes the Old Testament's understanding of health is Shalom which is often translated as ‘peace’ but in its wider meaning ‘completeness’, ‘wholeness’, ‘well-being’, ‘soundness’, ‘harmony’, or ‘prosperity’. Good health then is about wholeness of mind, body, and spirit that requires a holistic approach that looks at the whole of a person. Why is there so much tension between the psychiatric professions and the church when we want the same result? To see people on the road to recovery, what ever that looks like. Whilst psychology and the Church have different methodologies, reflected in their own language, for a fully holistic approach to mental health there is a need to work together for the sake of those we are trying to help.
For true wholeness the spirituality of a person needs to be taken into consideration without this understand and acknowledgement those with mental health problems will continue to be misunderstood. Some mental heath professionals struggle with the topic of spirituality thinking it not to be scientific enough and too akin to religion. Spirituality, however, is a characteristic of us all whether we consider ourselves to hold religious beliefs or not. Spirituality is our outward expression of what is going on inside as we relate to the world we live in. Spirituality is not a specifically religious concept although formal religion is one way that it is expressed. The church has a role to play in helping those with mental health problems to explore their own spirituality and to find their own voice in their search for recovery. Both the Church and mental health professionals have much to learn from each other’s specialist fields as we care for those with mental health problems. Both have made mistakes in caring for those who are already struggling without adding to their problems. It is time to work together for the sake of those we are trying to help.