Mental Illness, Religion, and Spirituality

Mental Illness, Religion, and Spirituality

Healing, recovery, or simply living with a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder may require medical, psychological, and spiritual support. Struggling with mental illness can at times feel like spiritual war. As someone living with bipolar disorder, while in the deepest of depressions, I’ve experienced what I can only describe as a living hell, and while hypomanic or manic, I’ve believed myself called by God to a higher purpose.

When churches demonize or ostracize the mentally ill, they quite frankly sin by hurting those in need of love and compassion. Many people first go their faith community for help. Churches and faith communities MUST be compassionate and refer people to the proper resources to address their psychiatric or psychological needs. Belief and prayer do not make brain disorders miraculously disappear, but a loving community – religious or secular – can offer support, encouragement, and hope.

  • NAMI FaithNet promotes caring faith communities and the role of faith in recovery for individuals and families affected by mental illness.
  • Mental Health and the Church encourages individuals living with mental illness, educates family members, and equips church leaders to provide effective and compassionate care to any faced with the challenges of mental illness.
  • Research shows that the meditative practice of mindfulness, which is similar to contemplative prayer and has its roots in Zen Buddhism, reduces the severity of many mental health symptoms.

It is possible for bipolar disorder to be understood as a biological illness of brain and to experience it on a spiritual level as the metaphorically equivalent of the devil. To deny treatment is a mistake. To lay blame is a mistake. But to experience severe depression is to live through a very real hell.

 

Previously Published on kittomalley.com

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