Why depression isn’t really addressed in the church.

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Depression isn’t addressed in the church.

Church and depression. Seems like an odd combination, but there are depressed people sitting in church every Sunday morning. Depression isn’t addressed in the church, and it should be. Do you realize how many people in any one congregation struggle with depression and/or anxiety? The percentages in the church are the same as in the general population.

And that doesn’t count the people that aren’t sitting in the church, the relatives, and close friends. In other words, it’s as common a problem as is lack of prayer and Bible study, and those are addressed.

Almost everyone knows someone who has struggled with depression or anxiety, or a combo of the two. Part of the problem is probably that most people in the church who have struggled won’t admit to it in the first place.

Imagine this:

two women holding pen

Hey, there! Good to see you. How are you doing”?

“My migraines are flaring up.”

“Yes, those migraines can be awful, can’t they? I’ll pray for you this week .”

And then there’s this:

two people talking//church

“Good to see you today. How are you doing?”

“I’ve been struggling with depression for a few weeks.” (Says no one ever but let’s pretend someone did.)

At this point, if a conversation even got to this point, the listener would probably be uncomfortable. They might say they’ll pray, but then they will probably scurry away, not having a clue what to do next. (But let’s not judge them. We are all flawed.)

Reasons depression isn’t addressed

I would suggest there are three main reasons depression isn’t addressed.

Pastors feel under-educated

First, pastors probably feel under-educated. After all, it isn’t their specialty, is it? I would suggest they could learn enough, though, to at least deliver a couple of sermons a year specifically targeting those with mental health struggles. It is my personal opinion they are concerned about congregations’ response. But certainly, they could address the attitudes of the church regarding such issues.

Congregations lack understanding and education

Christians are seriously lacking in their understanding of the more common mental health issues like depression and anxiety. I certainly don’t believe a pastor should address bipolar, schizophrenia, and other more serious illnesses. Education is sadly lacking in this area, and it needs to change, especially when many pastors themselves struggle with these same issues.

Of the four pastors I personally and currently know, three struggle with depression and/or depression. Because they represent various denominations and ages, I think it’s safe to generalize to the general population and say many pastors do or have struggled with these issues

If you don’t believe me, you only have to do your own research. John Piper, Beth Moore, Charles Spurgeon, and many others have admitted to depression struggle. You might find this site eye-opening.

The stigma is alive and well.

The stigma surrounding mental health issues is still strong among Christians, even though the Bible itself addresses it! How Christians can deny this can only mean one thing. They don’t know their Bible. Because if they did, they would be more enlightened.

And the more the subject isn’t discussed, the more the stigma will live on. Imagine my happy surprise when discussing my book, Depression Has a Big Voice” with my Pastor a few weeks ago, and he mentioned he is actually going to deliver a series of sermons about mental health struggles in the near future.

Now, if only more pastors will follow suit. Think of the burdens that would be lifted to hear one’s pastor acknowledge mental health struggles are just like any other struggle.

Click on the picture below for a video. (I’m getting good at these videos and slideshows.)

I hope you attend a caring and understanding church if you struggle with mental health issues. If not, search out Christian groups in your community where you can share your struggles and find encouragement.

People are human. Congregations are human. We need to educate them when we can. We need to be honest with our own struggles. That is one way we educate them.

God bless, and have a great day.