The “Church” and Mental Illness: Is it all its cracked up to be?

April 10, 2013 — 2 Comments

'Depression #5 (staring at the park)' photo (c) 2005, Dave Gingrich - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Rick Warren’s son committed suicide, and due to his prominence in the “Christian Church Circles” of mainstream evangelicalism, the “Church” is “talking” about mental illness.

Here is my response:

Wow. The Church is talking about mental illness. In reality, the phrase “illness” undermines the true dilemma.

As a social worker, a walking contradiction, a “Christian Social Worker”, the malady is systemic. It is more deeply rooted in the culture and societal approach to how we treat individuals suffering from genuine organic issues, ie. Schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, or depression. And those with socio-economic adjustment problems, legal problems, or poor familial supports.

The range of legitimate organic and chemical imbalances compared to the faux disorders listed in the DSM-IV, and soon to come DSM-V, are growing at such an enormous rate that mental illness is more of an excuse than a legitimate manifestation plaguing the sufferer.

Don’t get me wrong, let’s not discount that people really do struggle with bi-polar and depression. But, most clients receiving services in the mental health system in our country, are only doing so to have their lives guided by someone with experience and resources. These things are what once was a staple of the familial and societal units. In large part, these agencies substitute, or are sub-contracted entities providing services that in large part SHOULD be concerns of the CHURCH.

These issues are much deeper than the individuals who actually have depression and are “suicidal.” For us, those who are part of THE CHURCH, listening is a crucial component for our ability to be the BODY of Christ to everyone, not just our brethren with mental health needs. Listening also employs education and empathy. If we are adhering to the principle of loving one another as we love ourselves, this is a no brainer. We shouldn’t be “talking” about mental illness, it should be a prerequisite to our obedience to the instructions of our Lord. No longer should it be tolerated that everyone with a mental health condition should be treated as though they have a demon.

But, we must also not discount the very real possibility that demonic activity is something to be taken into consideration in many cases.

Next time someone explains they are having struggles with mental health, don’t just passively encourage faith and tell them “you are praying for them.” Stop right there, pray right away, but most importantly, step-INTO that persons life.

One of the first places I recommend people go, for plenty of free resources and great material on the subject is CCEF. Do yourself a favor, read an article today.http://www.ccef.org/resources

http://www.ccef.org/sites/default/files/CCEF%20Now%20Volume%203%20small.pdf

2 responses to The “Church” and Mental Illness: Is it all its cracked up to be?

  1. Interesting read! Yes, the church needs to stop being indifferent to all suffering people and understand that love (and listening) has to begin with their own!

    • I think one of the core components lacking in most assemblies I’ve interacted with is simply the presence of charity. That, I believe is significantly impacting the Church’s ability to compassionately engage with others.

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