Navigating Mental Health Issues as a Christian

Mental health issues are something we really don’t want to talk about. While it may be a reality, bringing it out into the open isn’t something that is easily accomplished. We want to hide it away from the world

Years ago I served as a visiting pastor to Rogers Memorial Hospital, a behavioral health hospital, to offer communion, group Bible study and one-on-one visits. The experience taught me a valuable lesson—it’s important to look beyond the stigma of mental health.

During those years, God showed me that the patients were people whom He dearly loved. Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep,” so how was this any different?

I am a chaplain not a mental health professional, so over the years, in a variety of settings, I have kept to my side of the street. Collaborating with counselors, psychotherapists and others gave me an understanding that body, mind, spirit are all connected and play a part on a person’s well being. More importantly, God does move in the lives of people, so letting Him lead is an essential part in reaching out to people.

Mental health issues are scary

Mental health issues are scary for so many people. They call it behavioral health. People can have a mental illness, but not have any “behavioral” issues. Mental health is not much better. Call it “Help for the Soul.” Mental Health and Wellness teams strive to not only help people through their issues, but also to connect them with God. We don’t usually think of the Lord Jesus Christ as a Mental health worker, but truth be told, he is the ultimate psychotherapist. Not only does He bring resolution, He brings healing.

We all deal with mental health issues in ourselves or a loved

Because most everybody at one time or another is going to deal with a mental health issue, that doesn’t make them any less of a Christian. We are dearly loved, made in God’s image, so the focus is on getting through the situation and moving forward.

The Bible is not specific on mental health, but it does touch on emotions. We see episodes of demonic possession in the Bible, but that is not mental health as much as it is a spiritual attack. People struggling with issues are not demon possessed, but they have problems that require help.

Stress, anxiety, depression are common and can be dealt with. People do not lose their salvation because they are fighting a problem. Anyone can have mental health problems, young and old, rich or poor. Because of this, we should not judge them, but reach out and try to help. Look at it this way, Elijah the prophet had suicidal thoughts. In 1 Kings 19:4 he prayed that he might die, but God strengthened him.

Mental health issues need to be treated

There are those who do not trust mental health professionals, or doctors in general, but the fact is people who have mental illness episodes need to be treated. Sometimes that means medication, but often it is a matter of talking things through and gaining a different perspective.

Often we can call upon God to take away those anxieties and worries. 1 Peter 5:6-7 speaks to this directly:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

The Apostle Paul tells us:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

The key is having a close relationship with God, through the Lord Jesus Christ. In today’s world, people turn to anything and everything to get help or relief. They seldom turn to God. The more we fight against the love and compassion of God, the worse it gets for us.

The religion of the world is humanism. Pushing God aside, we strive to solve our own problems our own way. Man is the center of the humanist world. Elijah thought his suicide would be the answer to his troubles. God had a better way.