Hi folks! This week church took an interesting turn. The pastor took the time to speak about mental health and how God helps us deal with mental health issues. The pastor even went ahead to share about his own experience and journey with depression and some of the congregants did the same. Now that was very different from what I am used to hearing about mental health issues in church. In fact, very little if any is said about it. There continues to be a stigma surrounding mental health issues, especially in Christians. However, this is a very important topic and especially now as many of us emerge from our COVID-cocoons.
Many believers in our society do not have a firm grasp on the truth of what mental health is. They mistakenly assume that it is all about depression or being crazy. But, in truth, mental health encompasses so much more than that. And that is why we as the body of Christ must break the cycle of stigmatizing mental health discussion.
What is mental health?
Mental health determines how we think and how we feel therefore it has an important impact on the way we view the world, how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. Our mental health is made up of three common factors: life experiences, biology (chemical make-up), and family history. Mental health problems occur when one of these factors begins to alter your mood and mindset. Someone who has poor mental health doesn’t have to be what the church stereotypes as “crazy,” they can be someone who lies awake at night with worry, someone who feels apathetic to the world around them or someone experiencing aches and pains in their body for no physical reason. Yet many believers who are uneducated on the truth of what characterizes mental health argue that mental health problems only arise in those who don’t know God or those who have backslidden.
Can God relate with our struggles with mental health issues?
The truth is that our Heavenly Father knew that His children would have mental health issues which is why He gives us example after example in His Word. Elijah, a man who was so loved by God that he didn’t even die had terrible mood swings and even struggled with suicidal thoughts. Naomi, a woman who lost everything, was ready to give up. Moses, the man who delivered Israel out of Egypt was so anxious that if it was up to him, he never would have gone at all. And the list goes on.
Mental health is a very real battle that we as God’s children must acknowledge in order to overcome. You cannot win a battle if you refuse to fight it. Ask yourself this question, if mental health wasn’t important would the Lord have included it in the Scriptures? Thankfully, God always shows us a way out which is why we have to seek His face for ourselves.
Why is it important to discuss this issue?
From depression to anxiety to finding ways to cope with our issues to feelings of inadequacy or abandonment, the struggle is real. And as God’s chosen people, His representatives here on Earth, we have to talk about it. We have to stop saying, “Oh, that’s just a Spirit” or looking down on someone who is going through these issues. Why? Because we cannot minister to people if they don’t trust us. We cannot help save souls if we look down on the very real emotions and battles people go through each and every day. Our light cannot shine if we never step into the darkness. Ignoring an issue doesn’t make it disappear. And, if we were honest with ourselves, I believe every believer that has ever lived has gone through periods of time where they were in poor mental health. It is okay to discuss it.
The Lord tells us that He will heal us but He cannot heal a pain we do not acknowledge.
When was the last time you talked about mental health in a group of believers? When was the last time you were honest with the mental battles you face? That is why the Lord laid my upcoming Bible Study Nevertheless on my heart. I faced these same challenges and thought to myself that maybe I wasn’t saved enough. But that isn’t true. The war we wage is in the spirit and in the mind which is why it is time for the Church to address mental health openly and unashamedly.
Chyina Powell is an editor and writer at Powell Editorial. She is the financial chair of the Alumni Epsilon chapter of the International English Honors’ Society, Sigma Tau Delta and her writing interests lie mainly in speculative fiction and creative nonfiction. With years of editorial and publishing experience as well as a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania, Chyina is passionate about her work and shining a light on those voices previously unheard or misrepresented. Chyina is also the author of an upcoming Bible Study called Nevertheless: What the Bible Says About Mental Health, that broaches such topics as depression, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy and more. In order to cover the expenses of publication, she has created a soon-to-launch Kickstarter project that can be found here.
Thank you Chyina for this piece! My take away: You cannot win a battle if you refuse to fight it!