Many of us know someone who lives with depression, bipolar disorder, or a different mental illness. Amy Simpson discusses the multifaceted nature of mental illness and how the church can serve those who live with one.
Often, people who are suffering from mental illness are told that they could recover if they just made certain lifestyle changes or had more faith. According to Amy this is usually not true.
“We tend to think much differently about psychiatric medication than we do other forms of medication.”
When we see someone who has diabetes we never encourage them to discontinue their use of insulin. We understand that they need insulin and simply having more faith isn’t going to cure them. Even making different lifestyle choices won’t necessarily help them.
People who suffer from diabetes need to take insulin because their body is missing the glucose it needs to maintain balance. If they don’t have it in balance, they will not be able to function properly.
The same can be true for people who are suffering from mental illness. For some people, lifestyle changes are enough to help eliminate moderate mental health issues.However, many people who suffer from serious complications require consistent medication.
Telling someone who is struggling with serious mental illness to simply think more positively, to have more faith, or to make lifestyle changes doesn’t work.
“Sometimes people need to take medication to even get to the point where they can think differently, where they can benefit from counseling.”
Some people only have to take medication for a short time until they find balance and stability. However, others require more long-term treatment.
“Then we have people who really do have to receive medically based intervention for their rest of their lives so that they can function well enough because their body is missing something they need.”
It is important to understand that mental illness is much more than just a mind game. Serious mental illness stems from deep-seeded physiological and biological complications that often require medical treatment.
You can find more information in Amy’s book, Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission.
Key Scriptures: Habakkuk 3:17-19