Mental Illness

14745378_sYou finish the sentence. “I was sick and you _____________.”

Now, if we’re talking about heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, I’m pretty sure we could fill in the blank with “visited me.”  But what if we’re talking about mental illness?  Might the sentence more truthfully be completed as follows:  “I was sick and you avoided and talked about me?”

I’m convinced that Christians (individually) and churches (collectively) have room for improvement in the way we minister to those who suffer from mental illness.  I’m afraid that there is a “whisper factor” involved with mental illness, and those who suffer from it live in fear of being discovered.  Consequently, they suffer alone, in silence, with little to no support.

But why should there be a stigma attached to those who suffer from mental illness?  Are chemical imbalances in the brain any less real than clogged arteries in the heart?  Would we stigmatize a person whose body doesn’t produce the right amounts of insulin, and therefore has to be medicated to regulate his levels of insulin?  Of course we wouldn’t.  Then why would we stigmatize a person whose body doesn’t produce the proper balance of chemicals to keep the brain functioning properly?

The National Institute of Health estimates that 26.2% of Americans, ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder.  That’s one in every four adult Americans.  That also means our churches are filled with people who are suffering with mental illness.  So the question begs to be answered, and answered Scripturally.  “I was sick and you ______________.”

May God help us to create a community of compassion and understanding.  May we create an environment in which people feel safe seeking help and support.  And may our response to those who suffer from mental illness be no less compassionate, loving, and Christ-like than those who suffer with other illnesses.

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Comments 3

  • Thank you brother for this post. Bill and I labor in a community where the statistics are more like 3 out of 4 are on medications for emotional and mental disorders of all kinds. Our ministry has taught us much about the power of God in healing broken hearts and the incredible patience, faith and compassion required to deal with our troubled world. I believe Jesus our Savior and example in ministry was unafraid to touch the troubled and unclean of His day. May we reach out to those “undesirable” in our communities and enjoy the awesome blessing of seeing lives transformed by the Gospel! Laura Dayton, Owenton, KY

  • Amen! I suffer from PTSD, Bipolar, Depression and my church (church of Christ) never visits me. I really love going to your church doing the campaign in June.

  • So, so true that it hurts. I makes me want to cry at times to think of the attitude some have toward those who struggle with mental illnesses. The People who need the love and support the most are the same ones that are often pushed aside. Just think how much good could be done by a kind word or a smile. How many lives could we save with just those two things??

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