Faith and Mental Health
Hi! My name is Dominique. I’m a licensed clinical social worker and yoga instructor living and working right outside of Atlanta in Decatur, Georgia. I genuinely believe that God has fully equipped me to fulfill the purpose He has for my life here on earth. So I try my best to care for my mind, body, and spirit, out of gratitude; and to stay prepared for however He may call me to serve.
When you think about wellness, are you thinking holistically? Wellness is not just defined by how you physically appear or if you are suffering from a physical illness. It includes many other areas of your being- including your mental health. Our mental health is a significant part of our whole being; and when neglected, can wreak havoc on all areas of our lives- physically, relationally, financially, etc. People who desire to live lives of faith can benefit from understanding that it is important that we not neglect this area of ourselves. If we find that we are struggling mentally, it is to our benefit, and to the benefit of the church body that we engage in activities (including mental health therapy) to help us navigate the path of faith and wellness.
Reasons to Seek Mental Health Support
There are many reasons to seek mental health counseling. These reasons can include, but are not limited to:
situational circumstances (current and past)
loss due to death or divorce, or job loss
other traumas that trigger cognitive responses that influence our mental health
biochemical realities as a result of
Mental Health Symptoms
Mental health symptoms that impact our overall functioning can include
general or situational anxiety that hinders one from completing daily tasks or meeting desired goals
depression that negatively impacts functioning and may include suicidal ideation
personality traits that hinder one from having positive productive relationships
psychosis which includes dysfunction in thoughts and perceptions
addictive behaviors such as alcohol and substance abuse, excessive spending, and overeating
Types of Mental Health Professionals
Often we have prayed, talked things out with trusted friends, family members, and maybe even church leaders; yet find that we are continuing to struggle mentally. It can be helpful to seek the support of a professional in the mental health field. Professionals in the mental health field have a number of names and titles:
clinical social workers
psychiatrists *(Psychiatrists are able to prescribe psychotropic medications to assist you in alleviating mental health symptoms due to biochemical imbalances in the body.)
These professionals have studied strategies that are effective in addressing mental health symptoms and are trained to join you in meeting your identified mental health goals. You can even seek out mental health professionals that share your faith and inform them that you would like to work with them from a faith-based perspective.
For many, especially those who do not come from households, churches, or community cultures that embrace participating in mental health therapy, seeking professional support is a courageous step. There can be concern about stigma, fear that others will negatively judge you, the challenge in working through your own misperceptions about therapy, and adjustments in valuing therapy enough to invest your finances in it. Take some time to pray about your concerns and ask God to provide you with guidance and wisdom on the issue. Seek guidance through God’s word. God’s word encourages us to not just believe what is possible but to put forth action in supporting what is possible. James 2:14-26, which addresses “faith without works,” is one verse that sticks out for me.
If you would like to continue to explore the topic of faith and mental health therapy, join Sozo Wellness on February 24th, 2020 at 8pm EST for, The Conversation: Faith and Mental Health. An additional resource to check out is Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis’ podcast, The Homecoming Podcast.
If you are ready to contact a therapist, the following directories are great resources:
www.psychologytoday.com/findatherapist This directory will allow you to search specifically for Christian therapists
www.therapyforblackgirls.com When using the search form, add “Christian” under the additional fillers section.
www.betterhelp.com You have the option to indicate if you would like to be matched with a counselor of the same faith.
Take good care!
Have you been considering mental health support? Have you already found the right therapist? Let's talk more in the comments.