Christians SUCK at helping people who have mental health problems. (Ask me how I know.)
By Anugrah Kumar, Christian Post Contributor
April 7, 2013|9:02 am
The tragedy of the 27-year-old son of Pastor Rick Warren taking his own life after a lifelong struggle with mental illness calls for a commitment by Christians to help create space for and minister to those with mental illnesses, says the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
“Yet, this tragedy facilitates an opportunity if not an obligation for the Christian community to address mental illness,” said Rodriguez on the day Warren, an internationally known Christian leader at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., made the announcement about his son.
Mental illness exists in and outside of the church community, said Rodriguez. “Christians struggle with depression and even suicidal thoughts. It does not make you less of a Christian. Just like heart disease or cancer does not dilute our Christianity, neither does mental illness.”
…Suffering from mental illness is not a sin, the Hispanic leader underlined, and added, “Yet, not addressing it, may very well be.”
Good luck with getting Christians to address mental health problems and showing sympathy to those who suffer from it, pal.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression when under the age of 15 and dealt with it for years. Went to psychiatrists, took anti-depressants, read the Bible, prayed for a healing, and absolutely nothing worked. I used to have panic attacks too, and had an anxiety disorder – I still have a bit of a problem with anxiety, actually.
I was finally set free a year or two ago from the depression, but that’s another story.
In my journey through depression, I can tell you that Christians who do not have depression do not understand it at all, and most are insensitive, unsupportive bastards about it.
There are any number of false, stupid, hurtful, infuriating stereotypes and myths Christians spread and believe about depression and other mental health problems, such as-
1. “Genuine” Christians cannot, or will never, have mental health problems;
2. Seeking mental health professional help, whether Chrisitan or secular, is wrong;
3. Taking medication for mental health issues, or for anxiety attacks, is wrong;
4. If you just pray to God and have faith, God will heal you of your panic attacks, depression, etc;
5. It’s all in your head and a matter of mere will power: you can will yourself out of depression and “choose” to be happy (or have enough faith in God and the panic attacks will clear up);
6. If you serve other people more (e.g., volunteer at soup kitchens), you will be so preoccupied with other people or be so uplifted by serving, that you won’t have time to think about being depressed, or volunteering will just automatically clear the depression up;
7. Read the Bible and pray, and that will cure depression and panic attacks;
8. Your depression must be due to personal sin or a character defect
There are so many stereotypes Christians hold about mental health problems, I may have forgotten to mention a few.
What I can tell you is that all of those reasons and stereotypes are utter bullshit.
Secular therapy and pills never helped me, but if you are someone who has a mental health disorder, don’t hesitate to give that a try.
Don’t let any Christian pastor, school of theological thought, or any discernment blogs and sites talk you out of using mental health professionals or convince you that you are to blame somehow for having a mental health disorder.