I will never forget the time I visited this church that a Pastor stood up and said that Christians whom have a mental illness may not be Christian, lack faith, or possibly possessed by a demonic entity. I am not going to identify the church nor the denomination, however for a Pastor to speak this over a congregation lacks wisdom, lacks knowledge, and lacks empathy. It is contrary to not only medical and psychology experts, it is not biblically sound.
It was at the end of this Pastor’s message when for some reason this Pastor holds an “Ask Your Pastor” session to where he answers questions from his congregation. I will give the pastor credit for first saying he is not a Psychologist or Psychiatrist, but he should have stopped right there! I cringed realizing not only that 20% of the America Adult population live with or suffer from a mental illness, (which means approximately 20% of his congregation in attendance), but that my friend and his wife just sat there while knowing my friend’s wife incurred a serious bout with depression, and currently on medication. I could barely sit still, and my lips did utter, “wrong, incorrect” and wanted to bolt from that church for such arrogant ignorance this Pastor was spewing upon his congregation. The only thing that held me back is that my daughter had practiced singing with the Sunday school to sing at the closing of the service. However, my son sitting next to me seen that I was distraught.
I never visited that church again, and did want to provide some biblical and human wisdom to this Pastor, but held back due to the relationship and respect for my friend whom is a member. However, I wrestle with regret not speaking up at times while wondering if this pastor may continue speaking such condescending rhetoric to his congregation.
Although mental illness can be brought about by demonic influences (which are noted in the bible), it is not the majority cause or driver. Mental Illness is no different from most any other illness. The mind can and does get sick. Just like most illnesses, mental illness can be treated, and recovery is not only possible, it does occur.
Medical and Psychological experts have traced the causes for mental illness from head injuries to genetics, from chemical imbalances, to traumatic life events and experiences…
Being diagnosed with a mental illness does not mean you are not a Christian, nor that you lack faith. It simply means that you are human, with a human illness.
Statistics by the Centers for Disease Control states that 50% of all Americans will suffer from a mental health crisis and that on average every American adult will suffer from at least two bouts of depression in their life time. (Source: CDC, NAMI).
Anxiety is actually the most common mental illness affecting 40 million American adults 18 years or older. 18% of the American population. Major Depressive Disorder affects 14.8 million American adults, or 6.7% of the American population. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD affects 7.7 million American adults or 3.5% of the American population. (Source: Anxiety and Depression Association of America. ADAA.) 5.7 million or 2.6% Americans suffer from BiPolar Disorder. (Source: Depression and BiPolar Support Alliance. [DBSA].) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder affects about 5 million American adults or about 2 to 3 percent. (Source: Psych Central). About 1 in 20 individuals live with Borderline Personality Disorder. (Source: NAMI.) These statistics are from those that seeks help, and obtain a diagnosis. Imagine what the numbers might be with those who don’t seek help. Mental illness is now being called the “silent epidemic.”
Unfortunately there is still a stigma associated with depression and other mental illnesses and often people don’t seek help. Often because of fear of being out-casted to even shunned due to the stigmatization associated with mental illness. This stigma needs to stop. Stigma is caused because of the lack of education, knowledge, wisdom and empathy about mental illness.
If you are someone who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or activities or lack thereof, interfering with normal activities or know someone who is; ask for help, or if someone you know is suffering or showing long periods of sadness extending more than a week, help them get help. Don’t wait. Talk to them and by all means listen to them. Often an empathetic and caring ear can go a very long way. There are many resources of help. And in America, it is now affordable to seek help for mental illness. And there is no dollar amount that is too much to help someone with depression and even possibly save a life. No matter how hopeless you or someone you know may feel or think their situation is, there is hope, and there is treatment.