Recently, l was made to feel unwelcome at a Women’s church event because my anxiety sometimes requires my husband to accompany me. My husband offered to come with me to this event because l have agoraphobia: a fear of being in open areas and public places, as well as being in crowds.
Even though men were present at the event, as waiters, ushers, and security personnel, we were given strict instructions to stay at the back of the hall and wait until everyone had sat down before finding a seat.
I couldn’t believe what was happening. I had just as much a right as any other woman present to sit where l wanted, and to participate in the evening’s program. And yet, l was being quarantined by the church, because my anxiety made me dependent on my husband’s support.
According to statistics, anxiety affects 7.3% of people globally. That means every 13th person sitting in a church pew has an anxiety disorder. And yet, many are feeling pushed away from churches, whose services and support are designed to meet the needs of a mainstream congregant demographic.
When we consider the rising percentages of mental illness sufferers and the increasing rate of suicides in church communities around the world, it is painfully apparent that the church simply cannot offer a “one experience for all” approach any longer.
Therefore, the following are 7 ways the church can stop quarantining people with anxiety:
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tero Vesalainen