The emotional damage of COVID-19 is far greater than what we think or imagine. Sadly, the mental health impact of the Covid-19 seems to be lasting longer than its impact on our physical health.
Many are stressed and continue to be stressed by the effect of this pandemic on livelihoods, relationships, businesses, education, ministry, and industries just to mention a few. It is becoming obvious that our mental health due to burnout among workers, especially the front-line workers, and increased anxiety or mental illness among those with poor physical health are also alarming.
Therefore, it is our duty as clergies to be careful of the messages we preach or post on social media platforms. Our messages must bring refreshments, hope, revival, and offer mental coping mechanisms through the pure word of God. We must be very thoughtful of the things we teach or say to the members about others.
People are different and deal with things differently. Not everyone we preach to has the same level of faith we have as leaders. Many people are losing their employment, and the financial lives of most people are uncertain.
Covid-19 continues to change the way we used to live and function as individuals, family, businesses, and institutions. The church and its settings are not the same. Things are changing and will continue to change no matter how we see or perceive them.
This is the time for us especially church leaders to stand and be counted. We are to inspire hope and encouragement in our members. This is not the time to create divisions among members. This is the moment for us to point the members to God and His word. Nothing is that important right now to anyone than the hope through the pure word of God.
We are to be the light and salt to the world that we are in. I am in no doubt that, we are preaching good to our members, but the question is, how many of these preaching or teachings empower, educate, equip and encourage them to look up to God?
Many are giving up on the faith they have in God simply because of the way and manner some of us leaders carry ourselves. Where is the compassion Jesus Christ taught us to have for the souls or flocks? With long-term closures of schools and childcare centres, among other institutions, many families especially parents are experiencing ongoing disruption to their daily routines.
Additionally, because of the increased vulnerability to coronavirus many of our church members especially those with underlying health conditions which they are not bold enough to tell us, are shielding themselves by way of social distancing among other safety measures.
Like many other sectors of society, religion has been impacted by this covid-19 and everyone is required to comply with government guidelines. With no services or fellowship, many are forced to stay at home alone. We have all been forced to maintain social distance from each other. Facing the fear of the unknown as far as this infectious disease is concerned, many of us do not actually know when life will resume normally for us to meet and see our loved ones all over again.
Many are isolated due to different reasons best known to them leading to an increased feeling of loneliness and anxiety, not forgetting the general feeling of uncertainty and fear due to the pandemic. Surprisingly and sadly, antidepressant use has soared as many have become depressed as a result of loneliness, and isolation. Many Counselling services have been cut and social recreational centres are closed as many can’t operate under the lockdown
As we continue to preach on social media and other platforms, we must think beyond those mediums to reach out to our members who may be at home in isolation and loneliness. For many people, I can boldly say that their religious faith is their “refuge and strength” as they live with fear, worry, and anxiety in this time of global uncertainty. Their mental health (emotional or psychological health) is their utmost concern.
We should give room for our church members to express how they feel emotionally about this Covid-19. We should not shut them down and must not try to ignore the stress and anxiety they are experiencing during this hard time. Denying them the opportunity to share and express what impact Covid-19 has had or is having on their mental health would make things escalate over time causing spiritual fatigue, anxiety, and sleeping disorders leading to overall physical health deteriorations
We must discover and deploy ways or further actions to alleviate the burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of our church members to ensure they are not mentally dead while preaching to their spiritual minds. Yes, we can if we change the way we do ministry in this pandemic era and become proactive in safeguarding the spiritual, psychological, and physical impact of coronavirus on the lives of our members and their families.
Personally, I think this should be a moment or the opportunity for all to stock up compassion and loving-kindness, and to reach out to the least protected and most vulnerable among us who are shielding themselves in loneliness and are emotionally deprived.