Featured Post

When You've Reached Your Limit

I was listening to the radio station KLOVE today as I was driving and heard a Christian singer talk about a time in his life when he was de...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

When Your Church Doesn't Support Mental Health Issues

This is a touchy subject, I know. But I believe in getting to the heart of the matter sometimes where there can be true healing and understanding when it comes to mental health issues. And I mean true healing and understanding on both sides--the mental health sufferer and the church side.

There are still a lot of people who do not understand mental health issues or how to address them from a church standpoint. Mental health is not the only issue that doesn't get addressed from the church. But in order to reach hurting people of all kinds, it needs to be included--those people need to be included and feel included in the church. They are viable members of the body, such as an arm or a leg or a foot than anyone else. They make up the body of Christ just as other believers. But those with mental illness are likely keeping a secret that very few, if anyone know about other than their family. Why? Fear. Fear of being revealed, rejected, alienated, judged, treated differently, feared.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

Jesus said that those who believe in him should have life and have it to the full. Does that include everyone? Yes. Those who suffer should have a life in Him to the fullest here on Earth with everyone else too, right? They will be in heaven with us too. Why should anyone be separated or herded out? The church ministers to our souls, hearts and minds. There are people hurting in a different way that need the same kind of support; not separation. Isolation is hurtful. Do you as a believer just look at the person with mental illness thinking you're going to see them freak out? Have you tried talking to them? Including them in a conversation or talking just one-on-one? Called them to see how they are doing? How their week is going? Keeping up with them as you would your other friends from church? Have you encouraged them to join a Bible study? Asked them to lunch? Told them you hope to see them at the next church potluck? Keep them in your prayers? Asked them to attend the next women's or men's group meeting or fund-raising event?

If you are in church leadership of any kind--all the way up to being a pastor and you don't know HOW to reach those with depression and other mental issues then ask a Christian counselor or Christian psychiatrist who has experience in it and supports those with it. If you go looking for someone to tell you that the medicine people with depression/bi-polar, etc. take doesn't work and is just a band-aid and all in their head, you'll find it. But you will also be putting blinders on your face to the true pain that is in the congregation. Does one really want to ignore that part of the flock? When we don't know what to do, we should go to prayer. But God will never tell a believer to not include those in pain in living life to their full.

What if you know your pastor adamantly does not support people with mental issues who need to take medication in their recovery and/or on-going maintenance treatment? I cannot make any decision for you in a situation like that. It should come from God through prayer. You need to be somewhere where you can be you and feel supported, accepted and appreciated. If anyone makes a decision to leave a church body based on the lack of acceptance of those with depression and other mental health issues after thoughtful time and prayer and perhaps wise Christian counseling from friends---please consider (with prayer) in telling your current pastor in private why you are leaving--saying it in love. If you feel you cannot say it in love then I would not say anything. The reason why I say this is that most of the time when people leave a church, the pastor does not know why. They just leave and he has no clue as to why they left. But if you can tell your pastor, in love, why then it might open a door in his heart, or some understanding into the life of someone they didn't understand.