46 Things I Would Like My Pastor To Know About Mental Illness

Recently I posted a question via my various Social Networks about what a Pastor needs to know about people with Mental Illness.
Here are the responses I received.

 

  1. Awareness is key. Become educated on the various mental illnesses and how to counsel those who suffer.
  2. Be kind and have compassion for those who struggle with their faith and mental illness.
  3. Provide personal support and spiritual guidance pertaining to the individual.
  4. Reach out to those who have mental illness because no one should feel like an outcast in the church.
  5. If someone reaches out to you, never reject them!
  6. Mental Illness is not bad or a sin.
  7. Pray for the individual and let them know you do.
  8. Never give up on them.
  9. Not all people have the insight to know that they suffer from a mental illness
  10. That it is an illness, just like other illnesses.
  11. People seem to be afraid of it.
  12. Would like for them and laymen to understand depression.
  13. Its not demonic
  14. Support is crucial
  15. Can be long term
  16. Counselling can be helpful
  17. That it has nothing to do with ‘demon possession’.
  18. Educate your congregation
  19. Never assume that when someone says I feel tired/depressed/down/achy/etc that you know what they mean. To hear the reply ‘I know what you mean’ or ‘I’m feeling x too’ is very unhelpful. It may have taken a lot of courage to express how they feel in just those terms and to hear that ‘you know exactly what they are going through’ is discouraging.
  20. People with non-mental chronic illnesses can also suffer from fear, accusation that they have a sin, isolation from the church, people giving up on them and much of the above.
  21. Referrals to help always.
  22. There is no cure and no healing miracle gonna happen.
  23. Stop saying and labelling people like me as ‘unsaved, rebellious, not trusting enough and just not doing this and that right’. As if it were my fault or other dark force. REALLY??
  24. I’m broke period and no amount of whatever you are trying to tell me or conjure will change that.
  25. Stop seeing it as an illness and begin seeing it as a different way of seeing the world.
  26. Stop thinking of it as something bad and begin thinking a problem to solve.
  27. Start giving every person who thinks differently or who’s body reacts to the world differently complete respect.
  28. Listen to what they are saying, body and mind.
  29. Help them find the voice to explain this world we live in then with open understanding learn from it.
  30. Understand that God did not make a mistake and how my mind works is NOT a mistake or something to be cured.
  31. IF I am to think differently then that is between me and my maker.
  32. When I am depressed understand this is not mental illness… something is WRONG… help me figure out what that is and create a plan to see through to the other side of it because I, at that moment, can not find the path on my own in that dark place.
  33. Help that other human being find their own gifts which the world does not understand (any more than they do) in order to give that to the world as only they are destine to give.
  34. Be gentle with our phobias because they are based in reality… something… somewhere… at some time…told us to be afraid of this thing and we still are terrified of it.  It is an intelligent decision to not stick our hands in the hot coals a 2nd time, often we just do not remember when we stuck in our hands or saw someone else stick their hands in the coals but it made an impression upon the soul.
  35. To the Jews and the Pagans, Jesus was seen (in his time) as a raving lunatic with what he believed.  To this day all except for Christians (of which I profess to be) see Jesus as a raving lunatic or (as explained to me by a Muslim child.. bless him) that the story is purely a fantasy.  John the Baptist even more so with his clothing and food choices.  Look at what they gave the world…. just see……… just open your eyes and see that God created another miracle but humanity is blind.
  36. That religion is not substitute for professional help. Don’t assume for example that better understood/more familiar illnesses can always be healed by faith.
  37. Many Christians and non-christians alike, suffer in silence needlessly. For fear of ridicule and judgement. Silence is the true killer.
  38. Never think of mental illness as sin. Never call them afflictions, no one put this on anyone.
  39. Compassion, empathy, an open mind and heart are essential. Love, an open ear, and strong shoulder are essential as well.
  40. Try to be silent, often one just wants someone to listen. “Do not walk in front of me, I may not want to follow. Do not walk behind me, I may not want to lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” (unknown)
  41. Those with mental illness need the same love and compassion shown to those without mental illness. Stop telling people what is wrong with them, and start teaching what God said the cure was- Love of them.
  42. Some of the most beautiful art/music/literature came from the minds of those called mentally ill. I think it’s time to learn to celebrate the differences found among people in a supportive fashion.
  43. People with mental illness are not lacking faith (they often have a stronger faith, and a deeper relationship with Christ).
  44. They are not being punished by God for some sin they committed.
  45. They are not lacking in prayer (no more than any mentally healthy person).
  46. They simply have brains wired differently and/or different chemical makeups than others.

 

Questions to consider and leave a comment.
  1. Which of the above do you most agree or disagree with?
  2. What other things would you like a Pastor to know?
  3. What experiences of Pastors being helpful have you had?

 

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Barry Pearman

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