Mental Illness

Many societies are devoting more attention and financial resources to mental illness. Still, the subject remains cloaked in stigma. The term “mental illness” may suggest images of serial killers and insane asylums. But, in a fallen world, almost everyone, from the local pastor to a marriage partner, is likely to be affected directly or indirectly by a mental disorder.

Depressive and anxiety disorders are two of the more common mental illnesses. According to the World Health Organization, about 4.4% of the world’s population (about 300 million people) suffers from depression. The number of persons facing such disorders is projected to rise over the coming years.

Thanks to scientific breakthroughs, such as neuroimaging and other medical and research methodologies, great strides have been made in understanding the nature of mental disorders. It appears that heredity and biology play a larger role than previously understood. As a result, treatment protocols have never been more abundant.

Christians in particular may endure shame associated with a mental disorder. After all, doesn’t the Bible specify that God will meet all our needs (Phil. 4:19)? Certainly, but in writing that passage, the apostle Paul did not state just how those needs would be met. One way is through the giftedness of professionals who understand the intricacies associated with mental illnesses, and have been trained to properly address these challenges. Safe and effective medications are another avenue of healing that may bring about a more balanced psyche. After all, if you suffered from kidney disease, few would hesitate to take the right medication. Similarly, many individuals seeking relief from mental illness find that proper medication is an appropriate step in the recovery process.

James 1:17 states that “every good and perfect gift” comes from God. Today, more than ever before, God’s gifts include astonishing tools not only to diagnose and to address mental illnesses, but information on how to maintain mental health. There is no place for stigma, shame, guilt, or other negative emotions as people seek to rise above mental disorders.

Prayer opens a great storehouse of blessings and hope. These resources can help persons suffering from mental illness to emerge from a place of desperation and darkness into the glorious light of a brand-new day.