Home > Mental Illness > Change A Mind About Mental Illness

Change A Mind About Mental Illness

Want to help break the stigma associated with mental illness? Me, too! Here is a good website to start with:  Change A Mind About Mental Illness.  For several years I have had a  growing passion for breaking this stigma within the church.  Sadly, the statistics stated below are as true for our churches as they are for any other people group on the planet.  Think about it when you walk into your place of worship this Sunday – could you identify these people?  My hunch is probably not – because the stigma has entered the church walls making it an unsafe place for the broken-hearted to share their mental illness.  This saddens me deeply.  I once heard that the church is to be a “hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”

[From the website]1 in 6 adults and almost 1 in 10 children suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. Yet, for many, the stigma associated with the illness, can be as great a challenge as the disease itself. This is where the misconceptions stop. This is where bias comes to an end. This is where we change lives.

I can be an advocate for such strong words as I have experienced mental illness in the experience of clinical depression for over 30 years.  The promises of God are sure and have been a help and refuge for me.  But people walking alongside of me, including counselors, pastors and doctors have been like Jesus with skin on – they have helped in more ways than I can express.   It really doesn’t matter whether you have personally experienced mental illness, God calls His followers to be swift to care.  And if it is difficult, then pray for the compassion and mercy to care.  This, in part, is what the Resurrection is all about.  Jesus is passionate about healing on many levels – from broken legs to broken hearts.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory. (Isaiah 61.1-3)

Pray to have eyes to see and ears to hear – to not back away.  Life is messy.  The evil one thrives on accusing hurting christians to hide behind smiling faces.  Jesus has promised that the truth will set us free.  You don’t have to be a counselor or a pastor to come alongside hurting people.  In fact, refer people to counselors when you believe a matter is over your head.  That’s a grace shown, and a responsibility we all have.

i will present you
of my
if you are patient and tender.
i will open drawers
that mostly stay closed
and bring out places and people and things
sounds and smells, loves and frustrations, hopes and sadnesses,
bits and pieces of three decades of life
that have been grabbed off
in chunks
and found lying in my hands.
they have eaten
their way into
my heart
altogether – you or I will never see them –
they are me.
if you regard them lightly,
deny that they are important
or worse, judge them
i will quietly, slowly,
begin to wrap them up in small pieces of velvet,
like worn silver and gold jewelry,
tuck them away in a small wooden chest of drawers
and close.
-author unknown

Categories: Mental Illness
  1. Alice
    April 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Thank you dear friend.

  2. April 14, 2010 at 10:05 am

    What would you think about helping to organize a conference on mental illness/depression and the Church?

  3. April 15, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I love you. Mental illness is real in and out of the church, and you are right, it seems much easier to over spiritualize things and cover it up. I have several friends who are bi-polar and it’s hard for them, as Christians, to openly talk about it. Great thoughts..

    • April 16, 2010 at 9:46 am

      Lisa, my question back to you is how do we educated pastors who believe and preach that mental illness is a sinful condition and a lack of faith? My skull tends to split when I hear sermon tidbits that speak out against medication and counseling. And I hear that more often than I’d like.

      • Leona
        April 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm

        I have been thinking about Deana’s question/comment about Pastors… and I have to honestly say, I have never heard a Pastor reference any mental illness as a sinful condition, or speak against medication/and or counseling. But, it would seem to me a Pastoral peer would be the person to help Pastors understand this.?

  4. Leona
    April 18, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    I just saw this posting Lisa. How does one recognize those suffering? You see, I would not have known or guessed you suffer from depression (I am assuming you because you write): “I have experienced mental illness in the experience of clinical depression for over 30 years.”
    I am not sure the church or anywhere except with a trained professional, close family and friends is the “right” place/people to share intimate details of one’s life. I don’t want people to know me by my illness or my struggles, necessarily. Those that need to know, know.
    I, too, have struggled with, struggle with depression, however, I have a different perspective coming from the medical community… I don’t want to be medicated for life. Some people truly need this (and I don’t disagree when medication is truly needed), but I have to wonder when the most recent statistics show that antidepressants are the number one prescribed medication in this country… are THAT many people in need of medication? Really? I have handled my depression well at times (by the Grace of God) and I have handled it poorly at times, but I want to feel, think and act and if poorly to learn what works and what doesn’t. I have seen the laundry list of medications almost every patient is on and it makes me ill from a medical standpoint, because in my opinion…it’s too, too many. We are a society of feel gooders, live longers even if I have to take a pill to do it and MANY MANY of those scripts are given to women to get them out of the office.
    Mental illness is one thing and thank God there are medications for such, but I would like to see women be taught life long lessons on how to effectively manage emotions, stress, disappointments, failures, mistakes (and grievous sins they live with) so they aren’t quick to accept those scripts. I have ot wonder if we are shorting God in many (not all cases) when we pop another pill. I have yet to see a script for antidepressants be short term.
    I have been told I am direct…perhaps it comes from an upbringing of feeling an underlying deception – not saying that’s true (I’ll never know), but I want people to know how I feel, usually there is no guessing with me (and people DON’T like that). Direct does not equal unloving or uncaring, but it seems to feel that way because we are a society that would like you to sugarcoat the truth.

    Let’s be a generation willing to hold a hand, a heart, a life when needed, carrying each other’s burdens, but it has to start with someone saying “I need your help with___” and it is my experience women don’t do that well. Heck, I don’t do that well, again, because I do not want to short change the miraculousness of God’s work in my life. And really, as I see it, He has done great & glorious things in my life, in my heart and in my mind through people, circumstances and just plain relying on Him (and no one else) – cuz ain’t nobody getting this fat lady out of bed on those oh so gloomy days (not even a hot fudge sundae could coax me out) – that’s a God thing.

    I apologize for the length of this. My other problem is I talk too much 🙂

    This link talks about the number & types of meds prescribed

  5. Leona
    April 19, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Another thought occurred to me… when I was growing up, women were at home, they did not “have to” deal with work demands/bosses (other men or controlling women) AND home schedules for the most part. They forged friendships with the other moms around them and THIS became their sounding board and support system. I remember many days when the neighbor women were over for coffee or tea during the day… we don’t do that. Women work many times outside the home and if they don’t, they aren’t always forging a support system outside the home. Women need to learn to re-connect not for husband bashing or keeping up with the jones’ but to have a support system and to understand that women CAN do it all (if they want)…just not all at the same time! I believe this would go a long way in limiting the need for medications except in the cases where medically or biologically necessary.

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