Do Evangelicals Really Believe No Treatment is Needed for Mental Illness?

According to a recent study, many of them do. About half, in fact agreed with this statement:

“With just Bible study and prayer, ALONE, people with serious mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia could overcome mental illness.”

Now, I hesitate to quote from any study like this and use it to pass judgement against evangelicals in general. Especially when it clearly is just 48% that did agree with it. On the other hand, I have some experience in this realm. When I was first diagnosed with major depression, and dissociative episodes, I happened to be very involved at a church at the time. I can’t say that everyone in that church was comfortable with my decision to take a step back from my involvement in church activities to attend therapy, individual and group, and generally try and take better care of myself. I won’t even get into how they felt about my therapist putting me on medication.

I also can’t say that everyone in the church disagreed with that decision. Some were very supportive of me and one even referred me to the first therapist I saw during that time.

It was a mixture, probably very close to the results in this survey if I sit and really think about it. But that’s not the point. The half that supported me were great, but the other half, who felt that all I really needed was more faith, and MORE involvement in church activities instead of stepping away from some of them to actually get help with my condition, made it extremely uncomfortable for me to even attend church any more. Eventually, they won out. Instead of having a place of refuge where I could be supported as I struggled for my own life and health, church was just another place where I had to fight and deal with people who saw me as less than themselves.

I know I’m not alone in this experience either. There are lots of survivors who do not feel comfortable in a church environment. There are a lot who do, and draw quite a bit of strength from their faith and church family. Wouldn’t it be nice if all survivors could choose to have that support if they wanted it? Instead, many find themselves on the outside of their church group because too many in the church don’t see mental health as a “real” health issue.

It’s 2013 people. People with mental health problems have health problems that can be treated and overcome with proper medication and possibly with some therapeutic assistance, and could use your support instead of your scorn. They aren’t witches to be burned.

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