Mental Illness


-Mental illness in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe ranks first among illnesses that result in disability. In 2010, depression ranked 2nd for global disease burden. By 2020, depression is projected to be the leading cause for years lived with disability worldwide (NIMH, WHO).

-The global cost of mental illness is estimated at nearly $2.5 trillion, with a projected increase to over $6 trillion. To put this in another perspective- the entire overseas development aid over the past 20 years is less than $2.3 trillion (NIMH).

-Worldwide, someone commits suicide every 40 seconds. About 1 million die by suicide every year (WHO).

-Of the 7 billion souls on this planet, either from developed or developing countries, 25% suffer from mental disorders. The top causes are depression, alcohol use, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder (WHO).

-In high-income countries, 3.5 males commit suicide for every female. Yet in low and middle-income countries in Europe the suicide rate is as high as 4.1 males for every female (WHO).

I could go on with statistics…

Nicky Gumbel, the senior pastor of Holy Trinity Brompton, in London posted this video on Twitter this week. Though the empiricalresearch is focused on the UK, the problems are relevant to other parts of the world. Mental disorders are common in many countries around the world, and it affects the rich, the poor, male, female, all races, all ages, Jews, Buddhists, and anything from Christian pastors to Hindu priests. I write this post because the issue of mental illness is close to my heart. I've known quite a number of people who have suffered or are suffering from mental disabilities.  One friend in college suffered so badly, and sadly committed suicide. It rocked my world.

For Christians, we’re not talking about mental illness, mainly because we don’t know how to deal with it. How to react if someone comes to you stating that they hear voices, are feeling suicidal, or is acting unstable one minute and “normal” the next? Christians don’t want to get involved. They just want to pray about it from afar. Some don’t even know how to pray for it. And not everyone has the ability to deal with people who are suffering mentally. It’s a vocation to deal with various levels of mental illness, whether that be clinically or as a layman. But, understanding the spiritual side of this illness and knowing how to pray for it is something all Christians should know how to do.

There are so many people in the church dealing with mental illness. Pastors too. We need to resolve to be there for one another, to listen, to help carry one another's burdens, and try and find help for those suffering. And we need to pray for our spiritual leaders and the preservation of their minds.

If you were to ask me what causes mental illness; I would simply say it’s spiritual. I'm not an expert on the human mind and I don't claim to be, but I have done recreation reading on the topic. And though it's a complex issue with complex factors, I believe it is a spiritual issue.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, our minds are the control tower of our lives and since birth, the enemy has been on a mission to attack it. That’s why we must renew our minds daily (Romans 12:2).  We’re not dealing with things of the flesh but of the unseen (Ephesians 6:20).

For those with deep and entrenched mental illness, it's not easy to just grab a hold of it and be healed. Some people will leave this world suffering with mental illness. But, for those who have a more control over their minds, it is possible for a situation, no matter how big or small, to affect ones life- so much so, that it can lead to a defeated life. And a person with a defeated life and depressive thoughts can believe him or herself into instability. Why? Because somewhere along the line they didn't resolve to fight and renew their minds. Maybe they never became rooted in Him. But they did not overcome a disappointing situation, but let the situation take them.

Mental illness can happen to anybody. You can be a dustman, a politician, a Tesco worker… anyone. It could be your day, your brother or your aunt. Frank Bruno

When feelings of sadness and a desire to wallow in it comes, you must fight back with Scripture and resolve to get counseling (if needed) to talk out your problems. Seeing a Christian counselor is not seeing a psychologist- it's simply talk therapy and it's not weak to talk about what's bothering you. And seeing a sound psychologist is not weakness either. Keeping thoughts that you are not strong enough to move on from can lead to defeat, and the enemy will have a field day with your mind. If you're suffering resolve to talk it out and seek counsel, before the issue overtakes you.

With love, Ally