It’s okay to love Jesus and have anxiety. Feeling depressed does not mean someone’s faith just isn’t as strong as it should be. Mental health issues are not a sign that an individual’s prayer life is weak or flawed.
Many of the old stigmas surrounding mental health challenges have slowly been disappearing. Medical science has learned a great deal about the chemistry that makes our brains and bodies work, including the reality that conditions such as anxiety and depression are generally caused by medical issues.
In the past, some clergy would suggest that people who were anxious or depressed simply needed to pray more fervently or reach more deeply into Scripture. They weren’t being cruel or insensitive … it was just that their understanding was limited. At times, those comments made it difficult for people of faith to deal with their mental health (or even admit they were having problems).
As pastors and church leaders learn more about the realities of mental health challenges, they’re recognizing that there’s no single solution. Meeting with a professional counselor can help those individuals better understand their challenges and learn effective ways to address them. In some cases, medication may be needed to correct issues in body chemistry. Our training and experience have taught us a great deal about mental health, and we don’t see therapy or medications as separate from God’s plan. We recognize them as tools God has made available to support those who need them.
What churches offer can be extremely valuable to people who are trying to overcome mental health challenges. Prayer, the company of other people, and reminders that God has a purpose for each of us can improve the effectiveness of therapy. That’s why Care to Change welcomes the opportunity to work as partners with churches, supporting each other’s efforts to help people live full and satisfying lives.
Would you like to know more about how we could help you serve your congregation? We’d be happy to sit down with you. We could also present a workshop to your pastoral team or your congregation to strengthen everyone’s understanding of mental health and what we can all do to walk with our brothers and sisters who are in need.
Brittany Gipson helps children, adolescents, and adults cope with and overcome mental health and addiction-related illnesses.