For the past 15 years, I’ve worked feverishly on developing a full-time counseling center for the members of the congregations that I’ve served and the communities surrounding them. My seminary experiences coupled with pastoring people made me acutely aware of my own inadequacies in ministering effectively in certain situations. It has been vividly clear for quite some time that most pastors and ministries are not prepared to deal with all of the challenges that affect parishioners.
Additionally, since 2013, at least 20 U.S. pastors have taken their own lives as a result of depression and mental illness. Presently, the fastest growing population of persons battling mental illness is 14-26 year olds. While many people may not fully understand these realities, please allow me to offer a few thoughts on Mental Illness Within Churches.
1) Many people reject the reality of mental illness because of an over-emphasis on the “Devil”, “demons” and “evil spirits”.
2) Reading the Bible, accepting Christ, being “saved” and “having the Holy Spirit” are not “cure alls” for every issue and dysfunction.
3) Mental Illness is not regarded as a “disease” by many people of faith.
4) Many people of faith believe that “exorcisms”, “the laying on of hands” and “anointing people with oil” are the only things needed if someone is dealing with mental illness.
5) Just like there is heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, blood disease and gum disease, mental disease is real and extremely powerful.
6) Mental disease is often masked by the appearance of physical wholeness or wellness.
7) Mental disease can be hereditary.
8) Mental disease can be caused, intensified and enhanced by unforgiveness.
9) Most churches have fostered a climate that makes it difficult for persons to admit Mental disease.
10) Many pastors, church leaders and faith-based counselors have dealt with or deal with mental illness. Pastors and churches must be more intentional about normalizing and not demonizing Mental illness.
As faith communities become more aware about the devastating effects of mental illness, it’s important to know that there are many resources available to assist local pastors and churches.
When Pastors and congregations don’t have the staff, training or resources to adequately provide services to their communities, developing effective partnerships and collaborations can be a transformational tool. Should you need any information about Mental illness and Churches, the Haven House Counseling Center is available to offer assistance to you! For more information, go to www.thehavenhouse.net