Faith & Mental Health Series Part 1
Be Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind
Topics of mental health, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, grief, PTSD, and suicide are everywhere in the news today. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the total age-adjusted suicide rate in the United States increased 35.2% from 1999 to 2018. According to the CDC, there were reports of increases in mental health struggles due to the circumstantial stress during the pandemic. We expected that it would have a causal effect on suicide as well… but it didn’t. According to the CDC, the suicide rate went down by 3% and has stayed down during the past several years.
What can account for that?
I believe there are several factors that certainly contributed to this.
- First, people were at home more. While there was stress over the situation, there was a shared burden. Families were talking about their fears and hopes. The Bible talks a lot about family. Exodus 20:12 gives us a blessing of long life when we honor our father and mother.
- Second, when we are with those that we love, there is strength. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” I think this pandemic qualifies as a time of adversity.
- Third, this time together created an opportunity for family restoration. When people begin to talk, they begin to see the problems, recognize their part -seek forgiveness and offer forgiveness. This brings healing where before there was only hurting. Colossians 3:13 tells us, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
- Fourth, I believe that with the opening of telehealth, some people who were unable to get mental health services were able to access them for the first time. In our busy lives, we are always on the run. Mental health often gets placed on the back burner when there are other issues. During the pandemic, there was time, but there wasn’t opportunity. Telehealth came in and filled that need. This reminds me of the words of Christ – Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. Matt. 7:7
People were asking and it was given. Some in the faith community say,
“If you have enough faith, you won’t need counseling… you won’t have mental health problems like depression… you won’t need medication… etc.”
The truth is the Bible speaks a lot about mental health. It never says that a person won’t need help. I love what Christian Comedian Chonda Pierce says,
“I get through my days with Jesus, counseling, and my prescriptions.”
A lady responded to her,
“If you had a little more faith and trusted Jesus more, you wouldn’t need those prescriptions.”
Chonda’s response was perfect,
“I will put down my prescriptions, that a Christian doctor prescribed for me when you drive home tonight without your glasses or stop taking your blood pressure medication and insulin.”
I believe that God works in us and through us in a variety of ways. We live in a broken world and people are hurting more than ever. God uses all means necessary to bring healing and restoration to our lives… including doctors.
Mental health challenges are real and God calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. I believe we can do this with His Word, the Holy Spirit, faith, and the people that God has equipped to come alongside us to walk through these valleys – family, friends, counselors, pastors, and doctors.