Losing Faith in Times of Despair
When coping with mental health issues, it’s not uncommon for people to feel alone and without hope. Though it’s important for people experiencing those emotions to ask for help and support, the social stigma attached to mental health issues sometimes prevents them from reaching out to their loved ones or a community of faith due to the fear of being judged or ostracized. As a result, people can end up feeling even more alone in their struggle to heal.
Coping with a mental health disorder can be such an overwhelming, uphill battle. It can cause people to wonder, “How could God let something bad like this happen to me?” and feel as though God has abandoned them, or that they’re being punished for past wrongdoings. With the question of, “Why me?” lurking in their minds, people may turn away from faith and begin to experience even more feelings of anger, resentment, emptiness, despair, sadness, and isolation.
However, some studies have found that people who struggle with faith during an illness may have a more difficult time recovering. In fact, recent research has shown that religion and spirituality are strongly connected to “improved life satisfaction and mental health outcomes.” For these reasons, among others, it might be helpful for people who are seeking treatment for any mental health illness to consider the positive outcomes that can come from health care treatment that includes spiritual support from the Christian community.
Because faith can help serve as a powerful part of the healing process, it’s no surprise that the Mental Health Ministries reports that over 40 percent of Americans looking for help with mental health issues first reach out to their ministers, priests, and rabbis. Sometimes, however, members of the spiritual community may not know how exactly they can help a person struggling with mental illness. The good news is that mental health care and faith communities are coming together to make sure the many people who are affected by mental health problems feel comfortable and safe asking for and receiving help.
Treatment with a spiritual component can be incredibly powerful, but it’s important to make sure each person finds the balance of “traditional” mental health care and faith-based support that works best for him or her. Most importantly, we should help people dealing with mental health issues remember that, though they may experience feelings of being abandoned or unloved by God in their time of need, they never have to be alone with their problems.