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Mental Health and Faith: What You Need to Know

December 29, 2016 - - 0 Comments

Mental Health & FaithFor thousands of years’ mental illness was considered to be a curse from supernatural powers, God, the devil or other devious individuals.  In ancient Greek mythology, a lot of myths are based on people being driven mad by spiteful gods –  an example being Heracles’ story.  There are examples as well in the New Testament and early Protestantism as evidenced by the witch-hunts of the early modern period.  Evidence has shown that Christian mental health services directly improve one’s physical and mental health.  

Rituals of meditation

Contemplative prayer and introspection are practices that have been found to produce amazing results in calming and relaxation of patients with mental health afflictions.  10-20 minutes of meditation twice a day helps to decrease metabolism, heart rate, and breathing rate and exhibit calmer brain waves.  This has been observed across a broad range of religions that include meditation in Buddhism, prayer rituals in Islam and praying with rosary beads in Catholicism.

Faith the first stop in times of crisis

Spiritual leaders and people of faith are usually the first points of contact when families are faced with issues of mental health.  This is partly because of the notion that mental illnesses are a result of someone being cursed or possessed and partly because of the firm belief that God is capable of healing all types of afflictions.  It is often found that in times of crisis many will turn to spiritual leaders before they turn to mental health professionals.  Leaders in Christian mental health facilities know how to respond in these instances and thus become significant assets to the overall health system.  They can then use this platform to educate family members about mental health and increase the awareness of these issues making it easier for people to seek help.

Supportive connections

The connectedness and support found in Christian mental health facilities are very important in the long-term recovery of people dealing with mental health issues.  Congregational gatherings practiced in Christianity provide structured social activities that can help alleviate anxiety in mental health patients and directly benefit your health.  These places of worship provide resources and social activities that support people living with these conditions like programs that encourage the integration of the mental challenges and reducing the stigma associated with mental health.

Offers a chance for spiritual assessment

Depression or substance abuse can sometimes point to a spiritual void in an individual’s life.  A spiritual crisis can at times overlap with a mental illness and faith-based approaches are better equipped to help individuals work through this confusion.  Christian approaches to mental health enable the patients to have a new sense of meaning, hope, and peace of mind.  They also have better relationships with themselves, others and God and their recovery is faster and easier.  This enables them to accept their condition better and better enforce changes where necessary.

Faith-based approach better positioned to reach masses

The pressures of life and spiritual crisis are some of the things that contribute to people having suicidal thoughts.  The ability for places of worship to reach large audiences and have referral networks to Christian based mental health facilities will go a long way in getting help for individuals having serious thoughts about suicide and other mental illnesses.  This requires a proper understanding of the signs of these illnesses and this can be properly achieved through multi-disciplinary approaches in treatment. Mental health professionals can form working links with faith leaders to better offer help where needed.

As we continuously discover more about the connections between the mind and body, it becomes apparent that spirituality, religion and faith can help some people to better cope with mental health conditions.

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