I don’t need counseling. I’m praying, and I know God will help me.
My pastor/minister/priest is counseling me. I’m sharing my worries with him, and he’s helping me work through my trauma.
We frequently hear that people are not interested in mental healthcare services, because they are depending on their faith to heal them. In some cases, their faith may be enough. But, when 1 in 5 adults in the United States is experiencing some type of mental health challenge, there’s a distinct possibility that Qualified Mental Health Professionals (QMHPs) may have some helpful expertise to offer. (QMHPs are individuals who meet all educational and licensing requirements for the state they practice in.)
For years, there has been a great divide between science and religion. Proponents on both sides of the issue have argued that their position is the better one – the one with the most power to do good. While proof is present that both science and religion can have significant impacts, it’s still a challenge for many people to agree that they can work together.
Seeking help doesn’t shadow your loyalty to faith
Reverend Blake Stanwood, senior pastor at Humboldt and Big Creek United Methodist Church, is a big advocate for mental health care – for his congregants and himself. “The church is in the business of love and grace. The caregivers of mental health are in the same business. Both offer a lot of growth to one’s journey,” commented Stanwood. “My wife and I both attend therapy sessions. Paired with our faith, we can maintain healthy lifestyles that keep unhealthy traits from creeping in.”
Stanwood continued by explaining that his faith is in no way diminished by his willingness to seek therapy and visit with mental health professionals. “I’d visit a doctor or dentist for a health concern. Why wouldn’t I consult a therapist for a mental health illness?” he asked. “If God has embodied specialists with skills and talents to help someone who is experiencing a physical or mental health issue, why would we deny ourselves their services?”
Mental health journeys are about renewing your mind
The journey to spiritual and mental health is a complicated one. While people are praised for their loyalty to the church, they are rarely recognized for seeking professional mental health assistance. However, the two can go hand in hand.
“As someone who has sat in a room with congregants and been asked to address any number of issues – with adolescents and adults – I can say that my skills are not appropriate to treat mental illness,” explained Stanwood. “I may have grown up with a different origin story than many people in the ministry. I learned that my devout faith was not always the proper avenue for effective care and didn’t lead me to overall wholeness.”
As a result, Stanwood said he can’t always provide mercy, love, grace, care, and justice if someone hasn’t already opened that door to be ready to accept those gifts. Therapy and other wraparound services may be just what someone needs so that their mindset is prepared to move to that next step in their journey.
Through therapy and other mental healthcare services, people can adjust their perspectives and outlooks on life. They learn to make better choices. They acquire a better sense of their place in the world. In a way, they renew their minds. Scripture tells us in Romans 12:2 that renewing your mind is the way to find the good, acceptable, and perfect in life. Paul writes: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Helping others is the Christian thing to do
In Galatians 6:2, it says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” In the Bible, we are told to help one another and support each other during hardships. Qualified mental health professionals are some of the biggest “helpers” there are. They bear the burdens of their clients and help them lessen their loads through treatment.
Many clergy members and religious experts agree that any journey taken in faith is much more likely to lead to success. Pairing a mental health treatment plan and your religious beliefs can provide you with the strength and tools to achieve your goals.
Religion and mental health care should never conflict. Both exist to help you become the best version of yourself possible. From your faith in God to your faith in yourself, it’s important to seek a wholeness that feeds your spirit and your soul. Taking care of yourself is an essential part of that process, including seeking mental health care when you need it.
Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center’s therapists and other professionals are here to help. Sensitive to your beliefs and faith, SEKMHC seeks to provide you with personalized care to help you overcome mental health challenges that are preventing you from thriving in everyday life. Call for information about setting up an appointment at (866) 973-2241.