Who are we?
Mental Health Awareness and Renewal Program (M-HARP), is an initiative established by four young Christians belonging to the body of Seventh-day Adventists. The primary purpose of the initiative is to educate people about mental health as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO): a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’ (WHO, 2001). The secondary aim of the initiative is to provide education about mental illnesses most prevalent within the South African context. We firmly believe that health does not only encompass the physical dimension but also the mental facet. Research has supported this belief by conveying that until mental health receives more attention, health reform is incomplete.
The Bible teaches that we are to be transformed through the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2, Ephesians 4:23). We go a step further by emphasising that our thoughts are pertinent for living an optimal life and also important for our Christian experience. Essentially we believe that thinking well is a form of worship as the Bible teaches that we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and with all our minds (Luke 10:27). Therefore we share principles that will assist us in girding up the loins of our minds/ rather preparing our minds for action (1 Peter 1:13) that we may be productive and happy individuals.
It is our prayer that through sharing basic principles of mental health, we will witness “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarding [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus? (Phil. 4:7).
Why the church needs mental health services?
In regard to health reform and its principles, mental health forms an essential part of overall health and wellness (“there is no health without mental health?).
M-HARP seeks to destigmatize mental illness and its misconceptions especially within the Seventh Day Adventist church and its members. M-HARP seeks to assist church members who have struggled and are still struggling from mental health problems. We recognise that mental health issues are not simply matters of spirituality, therefore simplistic solutions to these cannot help. Subsequently, we pull Adventist psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians and social workers together to offer professional help.
Additionally, M-HARP, as an Adventist mental health ministry, is aware of the related spiritual dimensions of certain mental illnesses. We also realise that mental health problems have the ability to prevent someone from experiencing a full and vibrant life in Christ and extending His grace to others in meaningful service.
M-HARP is here to assist churches and related church structures to be more involved in promoting mental and emotional health and wellness and also to be equipped to assist people who suffer from debilitating mental illnesses.