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Mental Health and Faith: Do mental health issues equal low religiosity?

Let Go and Let God. The common phrase which intends to bring a wave of peace upon those who are experiencing anxiety can oftentimes be the very reason that one’s anxiety becomes a whirlwind cycle of heightened negative feelings. The experience of anxious feelings. The attempt to regulate by leaning into one’s faith. The realization that the anxious feelings have only been temporarily (or not at all) alleviated. Then, the guilt and resulting increased anxiety that not even the faith can make the negativity go away fully, as it’s “supposed” to.

This sequence of events results in a cycle of fear. The fear that one is not devout enough in the faith, that they are simply not praying hard enough, or that, perhaps, they have done something wrong to have not deserved relief through their faith. In turn, the individual is faced with seeking professional treatment, or continuing on with the cycle. The issue here, is not some individuals are unable to find complete solace in solely relying on their faith. No. The issue is that several studies show that individuals, across faiths, believe that seeking mental health treatment is indicative of low religiosity. That it is the suggestion that one has given up trying. That they have lost conviction in God’s will and His ability to bring them out of any situation.

While the mental health field has made great strides in unifying with faith-based institutions, there is still a long road ahead. The considerations to be made regarding how one’s faith goes hand in hand with their experiences within the therapeutic context are vast. It is the notion that God knows all, that the Bible mentions mental health concerns, such as anxiety, explicitly on several occasions, and that the only thing that distances us from God is sin (and seeking treatment for any ailment whether medical or mental is not a sin) that gives us some insight.

Anxiety in the Bible:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-8)

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

What are your thoughts on the correlation between mental health and keeping the faith?




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