January. A month notorious for loneliness. It's cold and dark and the combination of going back to work and taking the Christmas decorations down is a depressing double whammy.
It's a time when we could all do with being a little more aware of each other, whether they're our friends, family or the homeless who are huddled up in the doorways among torn and wet sleeping bags. Check up on your friends, visit your family, and take those rough sleepers a warm cup of coffee. It's not necessarily what you do or what you give that makes moments like these special - it's the simplicity of being together and talking.
When we're together and talking the world doesn't seem quite so scary; trials are much easier to face, burdens are shared, and it's much easier to laugh and smile with someone else.
In the UK, 1 in 4 of us suffers with mental health issue each year while 1 in 6 of us experiences depression or anxiety on a weekly basis (mind.org.uk), and that's only those of us who report it. These figures make scary reading. And that's why we need to do something.
The simplest and easiest thing you can do to help someone with a mental health issue is to listen to them. If you suspect someone is suffering in silence, check up on them, see if they're okay or want to chat - it's much more human to connect face-to-face, but a phone call or text message will likely be appreciated. Then just listen to them; don't tell them how to feel, don't tell them "it's all in your head", don't say anything yet.
This is why we are running the #TogetherWe campaign. Throughout the month of January, we will be sharing the real experiences of mental health faced by members of the Christian community and creating content to help you know that you are not alone. Just because you live your life in love and have a hope in Jesus Christ does not mean you are immune to mental health issues. They can affect us all, at any age, and when they do affect us and our families, we need to be prepared to deal with them.
Talking about our feelings and sharing our experiences helps to break down barriers. We hope that by sharing the stories of these brave humans, that you will be able to talk to someone when you need to.
It's not weak to seek help; together we are strong, together we survive.
Save a life - share this campaign on social media and with your friends, family and church. Check up on your friends and talk to someone if you are struggling with something. If you have been affected by any issues presented in this post, or are dealing with anything, we urge you to talk to someone, and seek professional medical advice.