Mental Health

The Church, Mental Health, and Stigma

God is Our Greatest Encourager | Libero Magazine 2
I once believed a lack of faith was to blame for my mental illnesses. Those around me told me if I prayed more, read the Word more, worshipped more, I would be healed. They said my hope would be restored, and my joy returned.

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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.

I’ve been rather hurt and frustrated recently by the stigma and attitudes surrounding mental illness and faith. As both a Christian and someone living with mental illnesses, I long for the day when the greater Christian community stops seeing someone with mental illness as being less faithful.

It baffles me these are the conversations still being had, when we know so much better.

Science and psychology are continuing to find mental illness is rooted in our biology and chemistry and genetics. There is much we still do not know about where mental illness comes from, but we know enough to stop putting the blame on faith.

I once believed a lack of faith was to blame for my mental illnesses. Those around me told me if I prayed more, read the Word more, worshipped more, I would be healed. They said my hope would be restored, and my joy returned.

If I just believed more strongly Jesus was enough, then I would be free. My lack of faith was why I was still struggling.

These external voices telling me my mental illness was my fault destroyed me more than my own internal monologue ever could.

This attitude within the church only fosters guilt and shame, it only increases stigma and perpetuates lies. These only keep people from getting the help they desperately need and deserve.

If your doctor diagnosed you with asthma or cancer, would you not then take your doctor’s advice by making further appointments and taking medication? Would you instead turn to your faith community and expect prayer and spiritual practices to cure you?

Of course not. Most of us would do both: follow the instructions of our medical professionals and seek support from our faith communities.

I wouldn’t have overcome the faith stigmas associated with mental illness without having found a healthy community of believers to support me in my recovery.

I’ve written previously on what this looks like here:(

Often, though, the same lies echo in our minds in spite of involvement in healthy community. Maybe we internalize the stigmas we’ve heard and experienced. Or we simply feel inadequate because that is our tendency.

Know you aren’t alone if you’ve questioned your faith as not being strong enough to overcome your mental illness, or the goodness of God in the face of such suffering.

But learn to recognize this isn’t truth and speak truth into your own life.

God is good, He has only been good, and He will only be good (James 1:16-17). In the face of our struggles with mental illness, God is good. In spite of our faith (or lack thereof), God is still good.

God weeps alongside us in the face of overwhelming circumstances and emotion (Mark 14: 34; John 11:35). God has ordained modern medicine and psychology to bring healing in our lives and He wants us to utilize these resources (Matthew 25:14-30).

God is not a vindictive God who uses mental illness to punish us for our lack of faith. God is not a God who selectively heals people of their mental illnesses based on the amount of time they spend in prayer or worship or how strongly they believe Jesus is enough.

God is not a God who wants us to ignore modern medicine and psychology and seek only spiritual solutions in the face of mental illness.

Continuing to struggle with an addiction or mental illness is not a reflection of a lack of faith. Needing more than a faith community to recover does not make you a bad Christian. Seeking help from mental health professionals and medication does not mean you don’t believe Jesus is your Savior.

Don’t let yourself get lost in the lies that tell you otherwise.

Your mental illness is not a reflection of your faith or spiritual life. It does not make you less worthy, less holy, or less loved.

Mental illness is what it is: an illness. And you are so much more.

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SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.