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“3 Mental Health Stigmas in the Church Today “

Today, we are going to talk about mental health stigmas practiced by Christians. If you attend a church in which leaders practice these, I encourage you to seriously pray about finding another church. 

Remember, you are responsible for your physical, mental, and spiritual health and you have access to God through Christ to heal in all areas. Don’t let anyone discourage you from following the path God has set before you.

Now, let’s get into it.

You don’t need medication or should stop taking it

Various types of medication arranged in an abstract pattern

Have the people saying this ever read any prescription bottle. Ever?  Before we go any further, let me provide you with some scripture.

“It is a good thing not to eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything that makes your brother or sister stumble. Whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves”

Romans 14:21-22, CSB

If God has spoken to your heart and told you to take medication or not take medication for that matter, this is between you and God Almighty, and your physician.

I can attest that God sometimes tells us to do unconventional things. I’m talking to you Jerimiah.

If God does instruct you to do something weird, rest assured, He will confirm His Word so that you can be absolutely sure of it.

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints”

Corinthians 14:33 , KJV

It’s good to have faith, it’s necessary to have faith, but it’s foolish to micromanage another’s person’s life because you think you’re more spiritual than they are.

God knows quite well what He’s doing, and our job is to believe it. 

Exorcisms for people with Dissociative Personality Disorder

Dissociation is a disconnect in how we process information internally and externally. It can affect memory, emotion, behavior, sense of self, and even identity.

Some women suffer from a special type of dissociation called Dissociative Personality Disorder.

This was formerly called multiple personality disorder.

A woman suffering from this disorder has a fragmented identity, usually as the result of a significant past trauma or series of traumas.

Young red haired woman suffering from dissociation

I can’t tell you if dissociation is the same thing as demon possession but I endured a dissociative episode as a born again Christian which looked just like a demonic possession.

Therefore,  I don’t see any benefit in telling a woman who already feels out of control of her mind and body, that she is possessed by some evil entity.

It would be better, in this case, to direct her to the appropriate mental health professional.

Additionally, pastors and staff should be minimally educated about mental disorders, so that they can get the church member the help she needs or direct her to the right place. 

Encouraging a church member to “push away” negative thoughts

Negative thoughts are part of the human condition. They wear down our mental, physical, and spiritual strength.

So, I can understand how pastors might be tempted to instruct a church member to rebuke a thought in the Name of Jesus” or “send it back to the pit of hell.”

 However, for someone suffering with obsessive compulsive disorder and intrusive thoughts, this approach is not very effective.

Think about it. Would you run a couple miles while suffering from the flu?

Certainly not, because you would lack the physical capacity to do so. Although I did that once in the Army, and I would not recommend it. 

Therefore, we should not impose such heavy mental burdens on church members. Rather, let’s take the practice of spiritual edification and apply it in order to strengthen the one suffering.

Direct her to read scripture specific to her situation as you are guided by the Holy Spirit. This technique combined with meditation is exceedingly effective when practiced on a regular basis.

young woman relaxing reading Bible outdoors

If you’d like to learn more ways in which a woman can  abuse, please check out our post “3 Ways to Recover from Abuse at Home.”

Pastors and church leaders are often the first responders to a mental health crisis , so it’s important that they be informed or at least familiar with some common mental disorders.

If you are a pastor interested in learning more about mental illness, please check out the resources below, specifically the Mental Health Guide for Faith Leaders and the Quick Reference Guide. 

Until next time, THINK, FEEL, ACT, HEAL.

Much Love, many Blessings, Jesus is Lord. ✝️

Special thanks to the American Psychiatric Association Foundation for their dedicated research and for providing these resources for pastors and staff.

References

Peteet, John R. (June 12th, 2019). Approaching Religiously Reinforced Mental Health Stigma: A Conceptual Framework. Psychiatry Online. Retrieved from: https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.201900005

Stetzer, Ed. (January,2018). Mental Illness and the Church: Some Brief Thoughts on Some Ways to Engage Better. The Exchange. Retrieved from: https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2018/december/mental-illness-and-church-health-stigma.html 

Download the guides here.

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