Ed Welch Speaks on Helping Those With Mental Health Issues
At the Desiring God 2012 National Conference that took place in Minneapolis, Minn., over the weekend, counseling expert Ed Welch spoke on how Christians can improve the way they minister to those struggling with mental health issues. Jeff Schapiro of the Christian Post was there to catch his speech.
Welch stressed that while it can be difficult to minister to those with psychiatric issues, no one has the perfect brain and even those with mental limitations can pursue religion.
Welch argued, “though the brain offers these limitations on us, the brain essentially, fundamentally offers no limitation on our sanctification”.
The first step towards ministering to those with mental health issues is to truly listen to them. Ministers should get to know the intricacies of the lives of the person and their family so the minister is “affected by the hardness of their life”. It is essential to be able to understand what they face every day.
Welch stressed that though our physical embodiment may differ, “at the level of the heart, our issues are identical.”
We all grow old and our bodies wither and waste away, and the same can be said for our brains. This is why Welch pushed to remind the audience that the spirit can be constantly renewed.
Of course, it has become policy in Christian churches to leave the lives of those with psychiatric issues in the hands of professionals in that field of treatment. Welch argued this does not mean we should leave their souls in the same hands. Life can be hard for everyone, and Christians should always be there to help those in need.
The second step in leading those struggling toward the light is contextualizing their life story within the story of the Bible.
“Christ was crucified in weakness, and as a result he seems to have a unique affection for those who are especially weak … And he seems to be particularly pleased to use people who are weak to do magnificent, fruitful things in the kingdom of heaven.”
Counselors and ministers would love to rid the pain and struggles of life from those they are trying to help, but it is important to keep in mind that sometimes the hardships help draw people to holiness and God.
As Welch said, “we don’t have to be experts in modern psychiatry, we simply need to love wisely […] recognizing that people live before God”