Faith & Mental Health

A few months back 14-year old Madeline shared some of her struggles with depression and anxiety and showed us how she uses art to cope. Madeline recently sent ISM a blog she wrote about her views on faith & mental health (and some more artwork!) This is an important conversation that we should all be talking about! Let’s let Madeline lead the way… MRartThere are a few things I want you to know and keep in mind while you’re reading this: 1. I am a Christian and have a firm faith in Jesus Christ. I grew up in a Christian home and have always found God in even the hardest of times. 2. There is no perfect Christian home and I was abused at a fairly early age and this is where I started to develop depression and anxiety. Two years ago I sought treatment and I am doing much better today. I am on medication and attend therapy regularly.

My home church shut us out after my parents divorce and that was very hurtful.

Afterward, my family tried a fair amount of churches until we found a good fit. On occasion I will overhear Christians saying: “Jesus will heal your depression or anxiety, you have nothing to worry about or be sad about with Him, just trust in Jesus and get some spiritual rest.” My friends and I run into this problem quite often. This is a hurtful response to those of us who have faith but also struggle with issues related to mental health. 

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Just trusting in God will not automatically heal your illness! Do you expect someone who has cancer to “just believe God will handle it all?” NO! You go to the doctor and seek treatment. Now I do believe there are certain cases where this does happen, but doesn’t God have a journey for us? Perhaps we are supposed to go and talk to someone and work through our problems step by step? And maybe in some cases maybe there is a chemical imbalance and we need take medication, temporarily or long term. We go through these things for a reason, do we not?

I believe that even during these hard times we should still rely on God and seek him for counsel. I believe we should read the word and pray and trust that He does have a plan however he may lead us . But I am sick of hearing people tell me not to worry and to just laugh a little. I am tired of walking into a church and hearing someone tell me we shouldn’t need psychiatric help and we are just going through a rough patch. It is my prayer that the faith leaders and congregations change this dialogue and become more receptive to talking honestly about mental health.

Mental illness is real, even in the church. 

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Birch tree painting in progress by Madline R

Madeline brings up some great points about mental health and faith. This subject crosses all types of religious boarders and is not restricted to only Christianity. The effects of mental illness span across all faiths. Here are a few things our Jacksonville community is doing to create a healthy conversation about mental health.

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The above event is free. This will be the second year in a row. You may register and read more about it herePathways to Promise, Companionship Series, a series of books on how to implement a mental health program in congregations, will be provided to the first 150 people who register and attend.

Another local organization you may not be aware of is Icarejax.org. ICARE is comprised of 38 congregations in Duval County and has been around for 17 years. Combined, their congregations represent more than 30,000 residents across Jacksonville. One of the issues they address is mental illness.

Our mission is to powerfully address citywide concerns related to issues of justice and fairness. We are a direct action organization not a direct service organization. We use our collective people power to press our elected officials and other city leaders on county-wide solutions to the problems that plague our community: crime, the low graduation rate, homelessness, jobs and other community concerns. -ICARE

Please don’t forget that I Still Matter has been nominated to receive funds from Thill the World Jacksonville. They will perform Michael Jackson’s Thriller dance on October 24th (location to be announced) and the funds they raise from their GoFundMe are being donated to us! Donate here.

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