Christianity and Mental Health

I recently rewatched the 2001 biographical drama film, A Beautiful Mind. The movie is based on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. John was a brilliant mathematician with contributions in game theory, differential geometry, and partial differential equations. He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1994 and was awarded the Abel Prize in 2015 — the only person to be awarded both.

To say that John Nash was brilliant, would be a massive understatement. Despite his genius, in 1959, John began showing signs of mental illness and was eventually treated for paranoid schizophrenia. The movie, based on Sylvia Nasar’s biography, depicts the struggles of Nash’s illness and the effect it had on him and his family.

Nash is just one of millions who have suffered from mental health issues. According to Mental Heath America, 1 in 5 adults have a mental health condition. The next time you’re grabbing a Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks, take a look around. Likely, there’s at least one person either sitting at a table or working behind the counter that is struggling mentally.

Mental health for the longest time has been an ignored topic. Thankfully, mental illness, health, and recovery is getting an increase in attention. Some companies have even begun implementing mental health initiatives by treating mental health days as sick days, training leadership to identify signs of mental fatigue in employees, and offering telehealth options to aid their employees in dealing with their needs.

Unfortunately, the church is way behind in its understanding of mental health and illness. In some churches, there is still a stigma with health issues related to the mind. With the overall focus of the church being primarily on the soul, the mind and body have been neglected as a result. When we discount the mind as important like this, we create a divide between the body and soul — two things that are clearly integrated.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

God values our minds. After all, He gave us the ability to think, reason, dream, and problem solve. He created us with beautiful minds and He cares about their well-being.  As good stewards of what God has given us, churches and christians need to take seriously the mind and the effect it has on our lives.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be covering ways the mind can be effected negatively, even sinfully. We’ll look at how we can fight to keep our minds healthy and ultimately on Christ. It’s because of Him, we no longer have to live under low self-esteem, depression, anger, and harmful thoughts. Through the power of the gospel and the common graces of professional and medical assistance, Christians can overcome mental health struggles and live joy-filled lives to the glory of God.

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