Most of us have seen friends and family, even when they are believers in God and go to church, battle with severe mental problems. Even though we all wish that they get deliverance in some supernatural way, it doesn’t seem to happen that way.
Coming to the conversations in the church, till recently mental health issues had limited or awkward conversations. There used to be a tendency for pastors to avoid topics around mental illness unless there is an emergency situation that can’t be avoided.
However, with the increased awareness and openness among the public and celebrity circles, many Christians and clergy members also feel comfortable to take the need for mental health support much more seriously.
It is encouraging that many ministries and denominations are training pastors, elders and church members to handle emotional and psychological problems. One way we can be prepared is to better understand these realities in the society and among our churches.
In recent years, there has been increased interest among the researchers and scientists to understand the relationship between religion and spirituality and mental health.
Study and Findings
An interesting study led by the Department of Psychiatry, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center reviewed the capacity of religion and spirituality to benefit or harm the mental health of believers.
Findings indicate that religion and spirituality can promote mental health through positive beliefs, community support and positive religious coping. Interestingly, research also brought to light that religion and spirituality can be damaging to mental health through negative religious coping, misunderstanding, miscommunication and negative beliefs.
Considering the deep impact of church and religion on the mental wellbeing of the congregation, it is important to identify tools and resources that equip the church leadership to play a helpful support role.
Research also found some promise for the role of church and religion when appropriate tools were used for the assessment of patients’ spiritual needs and when spiritual themes were incorporated into treatment.
The key takeaway from this is that religion and spirituality have the ability to promote or damage mental health. This knowledge, in turn, demands an increased awareness of religious matters by practitioners in the mental health field.
On the other hand, it opens up the need for awareness and training within our churches and religious institutions to provide much-needed support to people grappling with mental health issues on a daily basis not knowing who could help them.
For more information on the role of religion and spirituality in mental health study check out: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25046080