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What Should the Church Know about Mental Health?

Mental health struggles are at an all-time high and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon. The church needs to learn more about mental health and how to best help those who are struggling with various mental health disorders.

Contributing Writer
Published Oct 18, 2023
What Should the Church Know about Mental Health?

The church at the present time, is not the first place you think of going to when you are struggling with your mental health. Sadly, many people within the church have made those who struggle with mental health feel bad about themselves.

Rather than seeing mental health issues for what they are, they treat them as though they have mental health struggles because of sin. This is one of the many false beliefs that the church believes in the present day surrounding mental health.

While not all churches think this way, most churches remain uneducated when it comes to mental health. The church needs to be well-educated on mental health because one cannot truly be the hands and feet of Jesus to the world if they are not knowledgeable about mental health.

Mental health struggles are at an all-time high and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon. The church needs to learn more about mental health and how to best help those who are struggling with various mental health disorders.

Mental Health Struggles Does Not Equal Sin

The church needs to know that mental health struggles do not equal sin on behalf of the individual. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, OCD, PTSD, and schizophrenia are not “sin” problems.

They are real mental health issues that need proper treatment through the help of a doctor, a psychiatrist, and a therapist.

The church needs to become familiar with these mental illnesses because the likelihood of at least one person in their church struggling with one of these issues is extremely high. Not to mention the truth that those outside the church are equally struggling with these issues.

As someone who struggles with multiple mental illnesses, I cannot stress enough the importance of the church understanding that mental health issues are not the result of sin.

A person is not “sinning” by struggling with depression, having a panic attack, or struggling to leave the house because of paranoia. None of these things are sinful because they are mental illnesses.

It is also important to note that nobody committed a certain sin and then they were “struck” with a mental illness. Mental illnesses are complex issues that cannot always be understood even by science.

Some mental health issues people are born with, whereas, others develop later in life. Also, some mental illnesses are triggered by a certain circumstance or a traumatic event. The church needs to understand this if they are truly going to be able to help those struggling with mental illness.

If you are someone in the church who has falsely believed mental health issues are directly related to sin, it is time to change this way of thinking. Mental health illnesses are not sin issues nor are they something that can easily be fixed.

How Can the Church Help?

If the church wants to help in the cause of mental health, they could offer free therapy sessions on certain days of the week. There is a church outside of my hometown that does this.

There is a licensed therapist who volunteers a few hours of their week to help those struggling with mental illness, free of cost.

Therapy can run anywhere from $75-200 a session and most people struggling with mental illness cannot afford these rates.

If the church truly wants to help in the matter of mental health, they could try to offer these free therapy sessions with a licensed therapist at their own local church.

Another way the church can help be truly supportive of those struggling is to avoid being judgmental or harsh in your words. Sadly, the church often can do both of those things when dealing with mental illness. In your actions and words, try to follow Jesus.

As Christians, we already need to be doing this. Being a Christian does not mean you are only a Christian on Sunday. Rather, it means being a Christian every day because it is who you are. The Lord wants you to love everyone and to help those who are struggling.

When you talk with those struggling with mental health, ask yourself what would Jesus say to this individual and how would He treat them. This will help you better interact with those struggling with mental illness.

It can actually be quite difficult to tell who is struggling with mental illness because they often will not tell you. Do not assume someone does or doesn’t have a mental illness based on the way they look, talk, or act. Anybody could be struggling because mental health is not based on a “look.”

The church needs to keep this in mind as they are addressing mental health and better equipping themselves to know how to help others. With this in mind, the church also needs to know that mental health is not something that you can just “pray away.”

While praying is important and powerful, it cannot heal someone of their mental illness. God can do these things and heal anyone at His will; however, God normally does not work in this way anymore.

Those who are struggling with mental illnesses cannot be cured by prayers, but your prayers can help them in other ways.

Maybe their mental illness will not be cured, but it might help them in their struggles. It could be through your prayers, it helps the depression lift, the anxiety gets less severe, or the compulsions are not as strong. Prayer is still powerful, yet mental illnesses cannot be fully treated in this way.

Most mental illnesses will be lifelong struggles; however, you can walk beside those struggling and be a source of support. This is what the Lord does for each of us, and we need to reflect this in our actions towards others.

Remind those struggling with mental health that God is always with them. Personally, each time I remember this, it brings tears to my eyes. To know that even when I’m all alone in my struggles, God is with me.

In this way, none of us are truly ever alone because God is always with us. He doesn’t treat us as “less than” because of our struggles. Instead, He loves us and surrounds us with His love. The Lord never looks down on us for our struggles with mental illness because He knows they are illnesses.

God never wanted any of us to get sick — with things physical, emotional, or mental. However, after sin entered the world, sickness, illnesses, and death also entered. Due to living in a fallen world, we have to face these struggles.

What Should the Church Know?

Even though mental health issues are not sin problems, they do exist just like other physical illnesses because of the Fall of Man. God never intended for us to struggle so much with our mental health or our physical health.

In the future, when God creates all things new, we will never have to worry about struggling with our mental health or our physical health again. We will all be healthy in mind, body, and spirit.

This is a wonderful thing to look forward to and something that can give us hope in days of struggle.

If you are someone within the body of believers who wants to help those struggling with mental health, start today. Get involved and ask for God’s guidance. He will guide and direct you in all things.

For further reading:

Did Jesus Address Mental Health in the Bible?

What Does the Bible Say about Struggling with Mental Health?

What Can Churches Do to Help People Experiencing Mental Health Issues?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/PeopleImages

Vivian BrickerVivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.

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