There’s a dangerous stigma plaguing far too many churches and people of faith. It’s the idea that mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression are symptoms of a lack of faith, or that people just need to pray or read their Bible more to “get rid of” depression or anxiety. People come to us and say they are frustrated because they believe turning their lives over to Jesus should have made them feel better – trouble is, many godly people devoted deeply to their faith suffer.
This is such a dangerous position to take and lie to believe. There are any number of factors that contribute to anxiety and depression, but not praying enough or not believing in God enough are not among them. God created us as amazing and complex beings, and medicine’s knowledge of the physical components of mental health are growing every year.
People who love Jesus and live godly lives can suffer from anxiety. For some, it can be temporary; for others, it may be a chronic condition. People whose faith is strong and solid can become depressed. It may be caused by something in their brain chemistry, or it can be triggered by an event such as the loss of a loved one, or traumatic event that experienced.
As people of faith, we’re compelled to care for each other. When it comes to issues like anxiety and depression, our response isn’t to scold our brothers and sisters or to insist they just need to pray harder, journal more, or meditate. It’s important that we guide them find to find the right help and to support them through their journey. In simple terms, we need to love them in practical ways.
In this edition of our newsletter, we’re addressing anxiety and depression from many perspectives, some of which may make some readers uncomfortable. But if we’re truly going to help our brothers and sisters find the joy meant for each of us, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable. After all, when we help others grow, we also benefit and grow.
April Bordeau is the Director of Care to Change. A licensed clinical social worker, she has focused on helping children and families overcome challenges in their lives for over two decades.