Intersection Online Recap: Mental Health & Spiritual Well-being

On May 13, 2020, Mission Central once again hosted Intersection Online, focusing on the topic of mental health and spiritual well-being during the COVID-19 global pandemic. In most nations, missions work continues albeit differently due to physical distancing measures. The Canadian Mental Health Association designated May 4–10, 2020 as Mental Health Week, recognizing that since physical distancing measures were implemented, there have been a significant rise in crisis calls from 25 to 700 calls a day. With this level of mental crisis in the general public, what are the implications for missionaries and outreach workers who are on the front lines of this health crisis, witnessing the miraculous work of God, yet putting themselves at risk daily?

To address this topic, Mission Central was privileged to have Anna Marie Graham from the MORE Network (a ministry of Outreach Canada) share her insights and advice on maintaining positive mental health and spiritual well-being during this unique time. In many ways, the experience of this pandemic is similar to experiencing culture shock, she said, in that as a global society we are undergoing a cultural adjustment to our new reality, just as someone who enters an unfamiliar environment.

Furthermore, "Every day or every week, it seems the rules are changing, and we don't know what to expect", said Anna Marie. This uncertainty may create mental, emotional and spiritual crisis. However, this culture shock is compounded by isolation, resulting in feelings of loss, grief or depression; and extended technology time, resulting in physical strain, causing symptoms such as headaches, dry eyes, blurred vision, back pain, neck pain etc. The combination of mental and physical stress leads to exhaustion as longer hours, more days, having to learn new technology, making harder decisions, facing unknowns and expecting a lot of ourselves take their toll.

Her advice for self-care was firstly, recognizing the symptoms of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual stress, and confessing to God we are exhausted. Then practice S.L.E.E.P:

i) Stay close to Jesus. Find ways to nourish your soul. Seek new ways to pray, worship, read the Bible. Give thanks for the small things.

ii) Look for rhythm and routine. Your life may not be balanced but pay attention to your physical and mental needs for eat, sleep, exercise, connection with important people.

iii) Expect tiredness, irritability, spiritual warfare, or conflict with those you are living with. Do not be surprised when you encounter various trials. Expect that you will need to depend on the Holy Spirit to fill you and have control of your life every day in order to live a life of hope and love others around you. You cannot do it in your own strength.

iv) Encourage others and seek encouragement from good sources for your self. Seek help when you need it. Ask for a debriefing – the chance to tell your story to someone who will listen with their heart open.

v) Practice lament. This is the Biblical way to grieve, complain to God and seek His response. Name your losses. Tell God. Grieve. Read the Psalms and write your own psalm of lament.

For more resources, visit:

  1. Outreach Canada, The MORE Network for info about transition, re-entry retreats and debriefing assistance
  2. Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries
  3. Trauma Healing Institute, American Bible Society, "Healing from the Distress of Covid-19”

Join us for our next Intersection Online on June 17, 2020, 10:00AM.

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About the author

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Sherman Lau serves as the Manager of Agency Collaboration at Mission Central. He is also currently pursuing a Doctor of Intercultural Studies program at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He is passionate about equipping the church to be intercultural people of God.

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Mission Central (Burnaby, BC) — Manager of Agency Collaboration

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