• Toni

Amen & Anxiety

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

Hey cousins ☺️

Today’s topic is about the oil-water like relationship church has with mental health.

“I’m blessed and highly favored” is a common response to church goers , especially Baptist and COGIC (Church of God in Christ) members. It’s an automatic response to say this however, thoughts like: ‘I’m depressed, I haven’t been feeling like myself lately, or I’m overstimulated and it’s causing anxiety,’ constantly roam the mind. Or maybe we express ourselves of the unwanted thoughts and feeling and get a response like ‘ just pray about it’. Don’t get me wrong, prayer has been shown to be a good coping skill but in many cases can only go so far.

What I’ve realized growing up in church my entire life is there was never any mention about mental health, EVER. What I did hear was ‘pray for the Henson family , they lost their mother’. Or ‘the Thompson family had a house fire, we hope God pulls them through’.

And it’s like do we (the church) not understand these TRAUMATIC events and experiences? Do we not know how grief and loss affects mental health? Do we not understand how job related stress and home stress affects the mental? And let’s not forget about the financial stressors. (Which so many church members experience consistently).

My theory to why most churches and religions don’t publicly discuss mental health is because:

1. Lack of education.

2. Fear of not believing in God enough. (“If we suggest therapy or other mental health services that must mean we don’t trust in God enough”).

3. Until recently, just like domestic violence, mental health was a personal and at home situation.

4. Mental health is still stigmatized & demonized, especially by Black individuals.

Y’all might not like these last two theories, but the truth hurts sometimes.

5. The church profits off of mental conditions. The more people in search of help = the more attendees = more money.

6. Mental health is unusually seen as a women thing and therefore doesn’t get much attention in a male dominated practice.

It’s kind of like the church feeds the spirit but neglects the mind which in turn is counterproductive because the mind is literally EVERYTHING. Our mind creates our reality, emotions are a reflection of our thoughts, and behaviors are an external manifestation of our mind.

So how can we fix this?

1.Have a church therapist or two.

2. People with high titles in the church: pastor, preacher, deacon should have some fundamental form of education on mental health and specific how to spot it.

3. De-stigmatize mental health by publicly addressing it rather that’s in Bible study, Sunday school, or during services.

I‘m sure I stepped on some toes and I’m ok with that because sugarcoating does nothing and helps no one. If the goal is change, let’s make the necessary steps to do so!

All in all mental health needs to be taken more seriously in religion. Feel free to share this with your church officials.

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Love, Toni

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