Mental Illness: Helping the Church Help the Hurting

April 13, 2013

All I can really say to this is “I wish”! I wish the church would take a more serious look at the struggles people have. I wish they would stop living in unreality and get about the real business of our Creator. It is not supposed to be a “lay hands on and leave them” kind of thing. Our mission…our calling…is meant to be one of getting dirty with people and walking alongside of them and supporting them. It isn’t to pretend that prayer and faith automatically fix everything. People have no problem with crutches for broken legs and insulin for diabetes. How about real active support for those who struggle mentally and emotionally. Ah…but that requires hands on participation! People are allowed to be sick when it means that the extent of our “help” is to take them to appointments, clean their house, bring them meals for a specific duration. But when there is no end in sight and no crutches or wheel chair…hmmm.



In the last decades of my father-in-law’s life, he slipped into a fog of mental illness from which he never returned. We did our best to help him–to find a diagnosis and effective medications. The years he lived with us were a constant battle of second-guessing, as we debated whether or not we were doing the right thing, doing enough, seeking out the “right” mental health professionals for his condition.

In my most recent book It Is Well with My Soul: Meditations for Those Living with Illness, Pain, and the Challenges of Aging, I devote a number of selections to the topic of mental illness. Dan and I both grew up in homes where mental illness was discussed in our homes and our churches as often as we heard about the mating habits of squid

This was probably a reflection, in part, of the generation we grew up in (a…

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  1. I suspect it would demand such a vast call to accountability in terms of domestic histories that … well, where to hide becomes the larger question in the minds of many. Too many myths, not enough profit… I think we are the agents of change, but I’m not sure I will see the fruit of it in my lifetime. (sigh) Keep goin’, sister. I walk beside you.

    • Trying to bring about change is a hard thing, but a worthy goal, nonetheless.

      What do you mean by “domestic histories”?

  2. Unfortunately, there is abuse within the church family too. I think this adds to the culture of not addressing the topic.

    • I agree! Abuse is everywhere and there really is no group of people, no religion, no building or philosophy that is immune. We must be vigilant and have our hearts open to see what is happening to others and be ready to help others be set free when needed.

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