We all want justice; it’s something that is inbuilt.
And yet all too often, I think we have a far too narrow view of what justice is.
We think that it’s all about courtrooms and tribunals; best left to the professionals. For so many, hearing about injustice in cases of stigma or because of a mental health problem doesn’t seem to register very highly on our injustice scale.
But I am not overstating the matter when I say that the provision of mental health services in the UK is an injustice.
There is approximately £8 spent per person on mental health research; with cancer receiving twenty-two times that number.
Only 15% of people with a diagnosis of mixed anxiety and depression (the most common mental health problem in the country) are receiving treatment.
It takes, on average, 10 years for someone to be accurately diagnosed with having bipolar disorder.
The number of people being sectioned under the mental health act in the past ten years has risen by 40%
Some Clinical Commissioning Groups in the UK spend as little as £2 per child on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
The stigma held towards mental health conditions is a justice issue – and one the church cannot ignore.
We need to be making a noise about this in the same way we have campaigned against slavery and poverty; not because I say so, but because scripture makes it clear that we must.
Amongst the many verses proclaiming this is Isaiah 1:17 which says:
“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
It tells us to care for those who are most vulnerable, to fight for them.
We have to fight for the much discussed ‘parity to esteem’ so that no-one with a mental illness is discriminated against. So whether you fight in prayer, campaigning or fundraising – it’s a fight worth continuing.
Mental health is a justice issue – and we serve the God of justice.