Mental Illness is Real

After the events of last week, the conversation about laws regarding access to weapons and mental health have intensified. One of the things that I’ve learned, being involved in the mental health field is that, the stigma of mental health and the issues some people have to access services, influences in having a larger number of untreated people with mental health conditions.

I wrote an article last year regarding “Faith and Mental Health”. One of the things that I’ve encountered as a Christian is that there are people who reject medical care for their mental health symptoms because they feel that it shows a lack of faith or just spiritual problems. I don’t deny that some people may be dealing with spiritual issues that cause their problems, but that doesn’t deny any mental health situations that they may be experiencing.

At the time that I’m writing this, it hasn’t been confirmed that the person who committed the horrible murders in Connecticut had mental health issues. My take on that is this, not all mental health patients are violent. At the same time I don’t think anyone in their right mind would enter a public place to kill innocent people, especially children.

I’ve heard many people saying that this incident is worse because it’s so close to the holidays. Believe it or not, the holidays can be a trigger, for some, unexpected reactions from those dealing with mental illness. The holidays are not a happy time for everyone. The stress of memories of past unpleasant prior holidays, family problems, financial issues, unemployment or something as simple as the weather changes during the winter, can be triggers to increase symptoms on someone with untreated mental illness.

From the spiritual standpoint, I believe that the enemy preys on those weaker during these times to ruin the celebration of the birth of Jesus. He knows he has been defeated and our victory celebration doesn’t sit well with him.

Revelations 12: 9-11

“And the great dragon was thrown down, the ancient serpent, the one who is called the devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole inhabited earth – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers was thrown down, the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life up to death.”

Instead of judging those around you with possible mental illness, educate yourself. There are many mental diagnoses, but the most common ones are depression and anxiety. If you or someone close to you presents these symptoms, seek help or encourage to seek help.

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you;

my peace I give to you.

Not as the world gives do I give to you.

Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Please take care of yourselves and each other. Blessings

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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.