Faith and Mental Health

 Mental Health is one controversial subject in religious circles. Emotional disturbances are not necessarily visible and therefore sometimes not viewed as real health problems and the treatment of there or lack of thereof is not always addressed appropriately.

Emotional conditions are usually viewed in religious settings as a lack of faith, a lack of prayer or lack of surrendering to God. I don’t discount that there are times were a believer’s struggle are due to those things, but as with physical healing, I wouldn’t recommend a cancer patient to stop or not engage in treatment; I wouldn’t discourage someone struggling emotionally to do the same. Matthew 4:23 (MSG) states, “People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them one and all”; which tells me that in God’s eyes they were all the same.

I think that sometimes believers fail to educate themselves in the nature of mental health conditions.  A high percentage of mental health conditions are biological in nature. Just like diabetes, they are due to a chemical imbalance in the body, in this case; the brain, which is as much as an organ as the pancreas is. Just like diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, most mental health conditions have a pre-disposition genetic component. It is true that a pre-disposition doesn’t mean that it will happen, just that the chances are higher. This has been proven with alcoholism and depression.

Can God heal people from these conditions? Absolutely, however that doesn’t mean that these struggles are not as real as physical ailments and they should be treated as such.

Some churches have a more open minded approach to these issues and have counseling programs available to their parishioners. There are many Christian programs (like Celebrate Recovery) and counselors out there that can not only understand the condition but also provide the spiritual support to the person dealing with these struggles.

In my opinion there are three major mental health conditions that are majorly misunderstood within the faith community. Those are: depression, anxiety and addictions. Absolutely keeping God first in anything in our lives is a most. At the same time if you or a loved one is struggling with emotional conditions do not be ashamed to seek professional help, or to encourage and support a loved one to seek it.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another

and pray for one another,

that you may be healed.

The prayer of a righteous person

has great power as it is working.

6 thoughts on “Faith and Mental Health

  1. Pingback: Mental Illness is Real « Naty Matos' Blog

  2. Pingback: Hot or Not? « Christian's Thoughts

  3. This is an excellent topic. I’d like to add chronic illness and pain sufferers to the mash, if I may. The Christian community doesn’t know what to do with people that continually suffer–which seems to me a bit ironic and sad. I’ve had much the same experiences you listed above. If anyone reading this knows of someone suffering long-term, please offer prayers before advice, and a loving shoulder and ear before judgement.

    1. Amy thanks for your words.I totally agree. We are here to support those in pain not to judge them. We all have issues that challenge our lives and the fact that we have them do not indicate lack of faith.

  4. kmgage

    My first comment didn’t go through..
    I just wanted to thank you for this post. As someone who deals with both Anxiety and Depression I remember when going to fellow church members to talk about my depression and they told me that I needed to pray more. There was NO support, of course prayer was needed but there was more judgement than anything. I was even told that I didn’t even need a counselor, just prayer.
    Its great when the church community can accept that these diseases/disorders are real and plaguing our community.
    I think sometimes the pressure to be a “Good Christian” can increase senses of doubt of ones faith, and even cause one to pull away from the church (because I pulled away from my church after that)
    Thanks for this blog Naty, more attention needs to be drawn to this issue…

  5. Kim

    I am glad you wrote on this topic. I think sometimes the pressure to hide these disorders pushes your further into one of these states. There are times when telling Christian family that you are dealing with depression brings forth criticism of your faith and devotion to God. And that is so unfair as well as further crippling because you start to doubt your own spiritual relationship with God, and I’ve even pulled away from the church and God itself because “something had to to wrong with me because I was depressed and anxious”
    It is always good when a church or a leader in the church is open to avenues such as counseling and doctors with the church as your support system to pray that your treatment helps to get you where you need to be in order to feel whole or complete.
    Great blog today!!!!!

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