by: Terence Hayes
Mental Health Notes
- Many Christians and clergy members are now taking mental illness much more seriously. Pastors are the front-line of defense for those suffering from mental health issues before visiting a professional licensed counselor.
- Numerous ministries and church leaders are working to equip pastors and congregations to handle emotional and psychological distress. Equipping is taking an aggressive and purposeful attempt to inform, educate, and train persons of trust to come alongside the hurting.
- The men and women sitting in the pews of the church are dealing with mental health issues that have been cast in a negative connotation, i.e, “take your medicine”, “you’re bipolar”, etc. Address the topics of mental health in sermons, teaching, and other educational opportunities in ministry with sensitivity.
- In a fallen world, the streets are filled with bruised, wounded, and hurting people. The doors of the church should be a welcoming source; a place of refuge, soul-care, and more. No one is exempt from loss, pain, and grief. Socio-economic status, racial backgrounds, gender, the educational level has no monopoly on anyone encountering a mental crisis.
- Search the scriptures that address mental health issues from a spiritual perspective. The sick need a physician, a healing balm, crying out for help, healing of the brokenhearted, oppressed, afflicted, wounded.
- Remove the shame and stigma of suicide in the church. Let God be the judge; not you.
- An individual who finds themselves in a dark-place is another word that they could be dealing with a mental health crisis. Learn the language, and be observant of the signs of an individual in a struggle. The struggle is real. Link up with an organization that offers training in Mental Health issues, i.e., American Association of Christian Counselors, Mental Health agencies in your state, community.
- Too many believers wrestle with unnecessary and, at times, debilitating fear and condemnation when they try to balance a walk of faith with thoughts and emotions that seem out of control, dysfunctional, chaotic, and deeply disturbing. No one should be afraid or have shame stating one simple four-letter word; HELP.
- Pastors who counsel members in a congregation must know their limits and make referrals as often as necessary. The house of God is a spiritual hospital for those in need of healing of the soul, mind, and spirit. Handle the souls who come to you with tender care.
- Pastoral counselors have a heart for the wounded. It is a known fact; many counselors are wounded, healers. Shepherds have a mandate by the word of God to care for sheep. Be sensitive and attentive to those who have been entrusted to your care.
- In essence, Christian counseling is a form of discipleship designed to help free people to experience God’s pardon, purpose, and power so they become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. It involves the process of leading others to experience wholeness, spiritual maturity, relational competency, and stability in intellectual and experience (Hawkins, Clinton, 2015, p. 31).
- In the multitude of counsel, there is safety. Everyone is not a safe counselor in the church. Churches need to develop a Lay Ministry for counseling in their ministries. It’s a safe structure to have in place with the right people.
- “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world…the thief comes only to kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 16: 33, 10:10)
- The stigma and shame of individuals suffering from mental issues continue in the church today. The more this heart matter is addressed in love and empathy the more fear will become lessened. Jesus Christ is the example to trust for every disciple of Him follows a wounded savior. He is acquainted with grief and sorrow.
- Be aware of the silent suffering individual in a congregation. The tone of the pastor in his teaching and preaching can be a window inside the heart of someone who will seek counsel because what they see and hear comes out of a place of trust. It begins in the pulpit to give informed and educated responses to a very personal and real-life crisis in a person’s life.
- When an individual knows you care they are more willing to share and be candid about a problem in their lives with someone in a safe place.
- It’s time to minister to the hurting with a level of sensitivity, awareness of mental health issues, coupled with empathy and trust that will translate to a better outcome in the life of a hurting individual.
- Mental illness is very common within our churches and local communities. Jesus Christ came to heal the brokenhearted, the broken, oppressed, and those in despair.
- The Church’s generalized failure to understand and minister to the multiple reasons that people suffer-including understanding the distinctions between sin, mental illness, and demonic influences-has significant consequences (Meir, Pingleton, & Clinton, 2001, p. 364).
- Pastors do not speak to their congregations about mental illness on any kind of regular basis. Be careful in placing an individual demon-possessed and one suffering from mental illness in the same category. “Some attempt to cast out demons from schizophrenics who need medical treatment” (Meir, Pinglton, & Clinton, 2001, p. 364).
- Of pastors: 49% said they rarely, or never, speak on the subject to their churches in sermons or group messages.
- 33% spoke to their church bodies more than once a year.
- 23% of pastors indicated they had battled a mental illness of some kind on a personal level, including 12% who said it was formally diagnosed.
The Soul-Care and Counsel Bible (2001)
Hawkins, R., Clinton, T. (2015). The new christian counselor. A fresh biblical & transformational
approach. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers