As Care to Change has continued resourcing faith leaders to enhance their understanding of mental health, they often come back to us a bit surprised. Maybe they referenced seeking help for depression or anxiety in this week’s sermon, and a half-dozen members came up afterward and shared news about their own journeys. Perhaps a reference to domestic violence led to a tearful visit from a member and a subsequent referral to help. No matter the specifics, these church leaders, care ministers and lay leaders have become increasingly aware of the complex needs of their congregations.

Is mental health being talked about from the pulpit, covered in small group sessions, or a part of youth group activities in your church? If not, here are five reasons to begin the conversation.

  1. We are body, mind, and spirit

Both science and theology continue to learn how closely our physical, mental, and spiritual health are woven together. Problems with our mental health can lead to physical problems and can obstruct our efforts to become closer to God and His purpose for us.

  1. Trauma challenges theology

According to the National Council for Mental Wellbeing, roughly 7 in 10 American adults have experienced some type of trauma at least one time. When bad things happen to good people, it can shake their faith and draw them away from church when they need its embrace the most.

  1. Addiction is at an all-time high

When people struggle with challenges or find their lives unfulfilling and lonely, they often turn to things that offer temporary relief … but many of their choices are highly addictive. It’s more than just alcohol and drugs. People in your church may also be addicted to sex, gambling, technology … there’s a long list of recognized addictions.

  1. Spiritual abuse is real

It’s sad to see how many people are calling their church and other faith experiences spiritually traumatic. There are those who use spiritual beliefs to control, hurt, or scare others into doing things they don’t want — such as remaining in an abusive relationship or that having more faith will remove all anxiety. We need to be part of the solution.

  1. Depression isn’t about being sad

Clinical depression and anxiety are medical conditions that show themselves through mental health symptoms. Simply praying harder won’t overcome a chemical imbalance or the effects of trauma. Faith is miraculous and people often need professional help.

If mental health hasn’t been a priority for your church, and you see the need, we can help. Please reach out to our team to discuss your congregation’s challenges and the faith-centered services our team can provide. We’re happy to come in to provide a variety of workshops that can help, too. Save May 9 of 2024 as we’ll be hosting a statewide faith leader summit to talk more about this issue. 

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