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Intersection of Life and Faith

Why Should Churches Be More Outspoken about Mental Health?

Jarrid Wilson

The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety. 

The biggest thing that we have to realize is that statistics show us that suicide is the tenth leading cause of deaths in America. The reality is that my story, depression, thoughts of suicide and when I brought it to the church, nobody knew what to do with it. Instead it was just, "Pray a little harder." Or "Have a little bit more faith."

And the reality is that I can't blame the pastors that said those things to me, because at the time, they didn't know what they didn't know. Mental health is still a taboo in the church because a lot of people don't talk about it in the same way that sex was still a taboo about 20 years ago.

When a pastor was going to talk about sex the next week, he'd let his congregation know, "Hey, guys, we're going to talk about what happens when, you know, a mommy and a daddy want to make a baby, so you better make sure to keep your kids at home." Well, now we just, you talk about sex because it's a part of life.

Mental health and depression and PTSD and suicide is real part of life in today's day and age. And so pastors, my encouragement to them is to be more outspoken about it and just simply talk about it. They don't have to know all the answers, they don't have to know every single statistic. But they need to talk about it and they need to make sure that they're not just saying, "You just got to pray harder. You just gotta have a little bit more faith." Because in the same way that a pastor would not be caught dead, at least, I hope so, walking into a hospital room and telling a little girl with cancer that she doesn't need the chemo, she just needs to have a little more faith.

I mean, whey would we think it's okay to tell someone who's battling an illness in their brain that, no, you don't need to take any medication, you just need to have a little bit more faith.

Now, medication isn't for everybody, but what we have to understand is that just because it's not for every body doesn't mean it's unbiblical. And so my encouragement to pastors is just to be more outspoken about mental health.

I would almost guess, and I'm going to guess on the higher percentage, just because, for the conversation, I would guess that there are 30 to 40% of the congregations around the world, especially in the United States have dealt with or are currently dealing with some type of mental health disorder.

And that I would guess that 99% of the people in your congregations or in a pastor's congregation know of somebody who's dealt with a mental health disorder.

And so it's something that we just have to talk about because it's affecting people and it's hurting people. And if the local church really wants to be the hope of the world, it needs to step into situations where people are finding themselves hopeless. And that is mental health.

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