Human Kindness Helps Heal

Barbara F. Meyers

Dr. Mark Ragins is a staff psychiatrist at The Village, an integrated service agency in Long Beach, California, that is renowned for its success in treating difficult psychiatric cases, often involving homelessness, schizophrenia, and sub-stance abuse. He says,

When I ask psychiatric patients who have done well what I did that was helpful to them . . . they almost always recount some moment of human connectedness: "It was when you hugged me and I could tell you knew how much it pained me to have my child taken away.” “It was when you believed in me, when I couldn’t believe in myself.” “It was when you lent me $5.00 even though you’re not supposed to.” “It was when you drove me home from the hospital in your car even though I was smelly.” “It was when I knew you really cared and wouldn’t give up on me.”

In other words, it was when they were the recipient of an act of human kindness or when someone believed in them. These moments are what help in healing.

Here is where the faith community comes in. People of faith are experts in human kindness. We can believe in people. We can see something inside them that they aren’t able to see themselves. We can give acceptance and love even when an illness is untreated or a person feels hopeless. And these may be central factors in recovery.

—an excerpt (pp. 35-36) from Held: Showing Up for Each Other's Mental Health