Kenneth Reid: When Will the Church Step Up, Look Past the Stigma, and Choose to Help Those Struggling With Mental Illness?

Mental health is both an urgent, and largely neglected, issue in our culture. 70% of teenagers say anxiety and depression, for example, are a “major problem” among people their age, according to Pew Research. But mental health is not just a concern for high-schoolers.

One in four Americans of all ages has some sort of mental illness. And that number doesn’t diminish even among clergy, as 23% of pastors admit to experiencing mental health issues, according to LifeWay Research. Yet the same study shows that 60% of pastors do not agree that “medications should be used any time they can ease symptoms of acute mental illness.”

For many churches, mental illness still has a stigma attached to it. Christians who suffer from mental illness are often exhorted to overcome their mental illness with prayer and Bible reading, but are discouraged from taking medication or receiving professional counseling. Yet God can use all of the above to minister to those who struggle with mental illness.

Jesus came, not only to save us from sin, but also to make us whole.

Renown Bible teacher and speaker, Sheila Walsh, told The Christian Post that her struggle with depression has been used by God to bring her closer to Him. “You feel as if you’ve been crushed. But in those times, that’s when you can experience the presence of the Lord.”

Walsh also talked about how the church must “wake up” to the reality of mental illness, and not stigmatize it.

“So often, when people are already hurting and struggling, we shame them, we make them feel as if there’s something wrong with them. We tell them there’s a lack of faith or trust in God, we tell them to pull themselves together. But, it’s not a lack of faith; it’s a lack of chemicals in your brain to be able to function well.”

She continued, “I’ve had way too many conversations with spouses or parents whose child committed suicide because they were told within their church they don’t believe in medication.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Kenneth Reid