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My Take: How churches can respond to mental illness
April 7th, 2013
02:55 PM ET

My Take: How churches can respond to mental illness

Editor’s Note: Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research, an evangelical research organization. He blogs at edstetzer.com and his most recent book is "Subversive Kingdom."

By Ed Stetzer, Special to CNN

(CNN) - The first time I dealt with mental illness in church was with a man named Jim. I was young and idealistic - a new pastor serving in upstate New York. Jim was a godsend to us. He wanted to help, and his energy was immeasurable. He'd visit with me, sing spontaneously, pray regularly and was always ready to help.

Until he was gone.

For days and sometimes weeks at a time, he would struggle with darkness and depression. During this time, he would withdraw from societal interaction and do practically nothing but read Psalms and pray for hours on end. I later learned that this behavior is symptomatic of what is often called bipolar disorder or, in years before, manic depression.

I prayed with Jim. We talked often about the need for him to take his medicine, but he kept asking God to fix him. Eventually, at his lowest point and filled with despair, he took his own life.

As a young pastor unacquainted with how to deal with these events, I found myself searching for answers. I realized two things:

First, people with mental illness are often attracted to religion and the church, either to receive help in a safe environment or to live out the worst impulses of their mental illness.

Second, most congregations, sadly, have few resources for help.

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This weekend, we learned of the death of Rick and Kay Warren's son Matthew. Those of us who know the Warrens know how they have anguished over their son's illness, seeking to keep a low profile even as Rick penned the best-selling devotional, "The Purpose Driven Life." This weekend, Matthew took his own life - putting the issue of mental illness front and center again.

Matthew had the best medical care available, a loving church that cared for him and his family, and parents who loved and prayed for him. Yet, that could not keep Matthew with us.

Mental illness is incredibly destructive, and the end result is not always ours to determine.

Matthew's life was not a waste and, yes, every day had a purpose. His pain is over now, but perhaps his life and death will remind us all of the reality of mental illness and inspire people of faith to greater awareness and action.

So, what can we do as people of faith to address issues of mental illness?

1. Churches need to stop hiding mental illness.

So often in a congregation, we like to pretend this is not a real issue because we have such a difficult time understanding it. We stick our heads in the sand, add the person to the prayer list and continue on ministering to the “normal” people. But it’s real, and it isn’t going away. In 2009, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index showed 17% of respondents as having been diagnosed with depression. There are people in the pews every week - ministers, too - struggling with mental illness or depression, and we need to recognize this.

2. The congregation should be a safe place for those who struggle.

We are often afraid of mental illness and the symptoms that come with it. As a result, we don’t know what to do with our own level of discomfort and our fears for safety, or we just don’t want to be inconvenienced.

A study from Baylor University indicates “that while help from the church with depression and mental illness was the second priority of families with mental illness, it ranked 42nd on the list of requests from families that did not have a family member with mental illness.” This is a real need among our congregations, one that we absolutely cannot ignore or expect to go away. People of faith know that God has freed them to love others, and that love extends to everyone, even (and sometimes especially) those we don’t understand.

3. We should not be afraid of medicine.

I realize this can be a heated debate. I also recognize that medication must be handled with care - as it should with any condition. But many mental health issues are physiological. Counseling will naturally be a part of treatment. But if we are not afraid to put a cast on a broken bone, then why are we ashamed of a balanced plan to treat mental illness that might include medication to stabilize possible chemical imbalances? Christians get cancer, and they deal with mental illness.

We’ve long seen the value in the medical treatment of cancer. It’s time for Christians to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness as well.

4. We need to end the shame.

I saw it in my own family. Suicide has struck our family more than once, making the news where we wished it did not. When my aunt was arrested for gun smuggling to Ireland, our family did not think of this as an issue of Irish revolution. She was brilliant, a lawyer and a doctor, but mentally ill. Her involvement in the Irish "revolution" was one in a long line of bad choices driven by her illness and eventually led to her suicide.

Yet, it was hard to talk of these things. They had to be “handled in the dark” because “no one could know.” I love my family. But shame was something that was difficult to avoid in every case.

Let’s be honest. These are typically delicate situations. And we want to protect the privacy and dignity of the people we love, particularly when they are behaving in ways that might draw negative attention. But compassion and care can go a long way in helping people know they don’t have to hide.

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Why should this be of concern to people of faith? Simply put, there is no place where Americans are more connected and no place where grace is more expected than the church.

Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs, but the greater community that holds those beliefs can be key to the lifelong process of dealing with mental illness. Most research points to the fact that more religious people tend to be healthier, both physically and mentally, but religious activities do not remove people of faith from sickness of either kind.

Christians believe the church is the body of Christ—the hands and feet of Jesus—and that means going into the darkest places and the toughest situations to bring light. It means walking with those who are suffering, no matter what the suffering looks like.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ed Stetzer.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church

soundoff (873 Responses)
  1. inspiration

    "...people with mental illness are often attracted to religion and the church" – that sure rings true. Basically, to be religious you have to be a mental cas!

    April 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  2. Tee totally bonkers

    "Another generalization that you have no qualifications for making."

    I take one drug I have been unable to eliminate completely, so far. the last three prescriptions I have received from a Doctor clearly indicated that that they should not be taken with the first.

    that qualifies me to offer an opinion on an opinion board.
    Do you have any opinions other than your distaste for my distaste for the way our health care system operates?

    April 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Yes, I'm of the opinion that it's a challenge for you to even use the reply function.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  3. Tony

    Unfortunately I think that religion causes many of the problems people have that are viewed as mental illness. Do you have any idea how many people say I'm "sick in the head" because I'm an atheist? Societal pressure to conform to outdated religious beliefs has made it super hard for a growing amount of unbelieving youth, and their parents only respond with more Jesus talk instead of factual treatment that would help them.

    If Religion helps you then it's great, but it does just as much harm to people (especially young people) as it does good.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Right, people who believe that a man who lives in the nowhere controls their every move and will save them from death if they communicate telepathically with him are good at telling me I am delusional because I don't see the man in the sky. They run my country, and they talk to a dead man in their minds, and they think I am crazy.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  4. Johnny 5

    Religion itself promotes mental illness. Churches respond to mental illness by providing a building to gather in. The thought of prayer being used as a plausible cure is in fact a very dangerous approach. Humanity needs to move beyond such things.

    April 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  5. Heather T

    I am someone with three people with OCD and anxiety in their family, and I'm also a pastor. I take this issue very seriously and am blessed to be part of a dynamic church that openly embraces people with mental health issues. I think sometimes it is easier for the church to embrace those with addiction or abuse issues than it is those with mental health issues, because there are concrete steps and programs to use in helping people. But I'm disappointed in this article. You give the reasons why the church should help, but give zero concrete actions the church can be taking to help them. A lot of churches would like to help, would agree this is important–but without concrete steps to take, they are left with feel-good sayings like "make the church a safe place" that doesn't actually DO anything specific. They have no action steps. I think you mean well–I'd just like to see this go beyond rhetoric into actual steps churches can be taking so that real change is effected.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • ME II

      @Heather T,
      Well said.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • Ironage

      I agree that Churches should be able to help with care for those that want it. But they should never be left to try and treat the illness. We all saw the abuse that occurred with trying to treat gay people.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • JWT

      With mental illness there are no concrete steps that guarantee success. It's more a question of knowing what resources are available in the community for both an affected person and their family, patience, a willingness to listen, provide a safe haven, acceptance, etc. What works for one person may not work for the next person with exactly the same symptoms.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Wendy

      Heather, to a T, personally, I'd steer well away from any church leader thinking about embracing me, but then I'm mentally healthy and stay away from churches and other houses of ill repute anyway.

      Religion is certainly a mental illness in and of itself, albeit most of the time to a minor degree. Looking to church for solutions is just one problem chasing another one; it's just not a good direction to go in for a solution, and in fact church is a dead end of dependency.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  6. Uncouth Swain

    I love Jesus. I am so tired of skum atheists that never do anything or say anything positive to anyone.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Looks like middle school is out for the day. The junior woodchucks are out.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Whatever, Tom. We've never been friends and you are clear as day oposed to ever being positive.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Uncouth Swain would never misspell simple words like "sc um" and "opposed". He wouldn't write such a tortured, mangled thing as you have and pretend it was a sentence.

      Obvious troll is obvious. And dumb.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • ellid

      One of the glories of America is that people who love Jesus but dehumanize their fellow men and women are equally allowed to speak their minds.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Ironage

      Spoken like a true Christian. Obviously following the teachings of Christ is too much for you.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • William Polhamus

      So sad that you think that telling people they are going to hell is positive.....

      April 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      We've wasted a few years together here, Tom. Why don't you consider deeply how much time you've wasted battling me and my ilk. And look, just LOOK, where it has gotten you. Nowhere. I am not nor have I ever been, who or what you think, or wish me to be in order for you to maintain whatever it is you believe yourself to be. The best part of all of this is that I can keep up whichever act I choose. And you will keep falling into it. Over, and over, and over, and over and over, and over. Just as you have always done.

      You've got something on your face. Here's a rag. Go clean yourself up.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Shout-Out: TheBibleReloaded

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSKAGA7AwLQ

      April 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Lycidas has a completely different style of writing, honey. You haven't mastered the art of forgery.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Oh, you'd like "positive?" You aren't as insane as some of the other losers who post here, even if you can't define "uncouth" OR "swain." Maybe you will one day be cured of your mania.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  7. Rob

    Um, churches (and religion in general) CAUSE more mental illness in people than HELP them! Via brainwashing.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Ironage

      I agree, this is the LAST thing the mentally ill need. Being force fed someone else's psychosis is not a valid treatment for a complex illness.
      Care and treatment are two different things. Leave the treatment to the professionals.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  8. more2bits

    OH great the mentally ill helping the mentally ill. That oughta help!

    April 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  9. Magnificent New Channel - MUST SEE!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW3PBK6GOv0
    \

    April 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  10. BonkysMama

    If these people were truly saved by The Grace of God they wouldn't have even have mental illnesses. People who go to church and claim they are depressed or have any type of mental defect are usually just looking for attention and want people to feel sorry for them. It's not like a real physical disease with real symptoms so it's very easy to fake. Those who are not faking to get attention are under the spell of Satan and his demons and don't need to be in a church causing trouble for true Christians there to worship God.

    Church is for people who want to repent and turn away from their sins. People who run around crying about mental illness which isn't even real in the first place need to go elsewhere their drama and whining brings down the image of the church as the bride of Christ

    April 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • ChestnutMay

      This is snark, right?

      April 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • BonkysMama

      Snark? Not. Even. Close. This is reality. I have two little chocolate skinned beauties adopted through CPS and two precious bio kiddos and my man and I go to great lengths to keep them away from the things of this world including mental illness. Had we not redeemed and saved our two little chocolate skinned beauties they would have been raised in homes rampant with mental illness and other various generational bondage. Why would we rescue them from that darkness and then turn around and have the same type of defective people in their precious little lives at church? If someone at our church believes they have mental illness they at least know well enough to keep it to themselves. When someone starts crying about it that is when they need to be pruned from the vine.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • ellid

      Troll who clearly hasn't read Matthew 25.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Sam

      Don't feed the troll.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Calv1n

      Apparently you haven't kept up with medical research over the past quarter century. Bipolarity is a chemical imbalance. This is a physical phenomenon.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Posting bull like this is a sign of mental illness, even for a troll.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • JWT

      Mental illness can strike anyone. You cannot keep people away from it either. The mentally ill are in school, they work, they drive they are parents.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  11. Ray

    Religion is a mental illness and has no place in our society!!! Replacing one mental illness with another mental illnes is insane!!!

    April 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  12. peterz

    Was mental illness rate in churches higher than normal ?

    April 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  13. Patrish

    Churches have trouble dealing with many issues in todays world. There answer to everything is pray and God will help you. It's pretty Obvious that isn't happening.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  14. Tee totally bonkers

    Those of you scoffing my position that Pharmaceuticals push drugs and over medication is a problem in our society just turn on your TV.

    You will not have to wait long for a commercial about a wonder drug and that commercial will be followed by an ad making an appeal for you to join a class action suit after being harmed by a drug.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • The real Tom

      So now you're relying on TV commercials to prove your point? No stats? Studies?

      That's okay. I knew you didn't have any.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • JWT

      Many drugs are needed by people despite the adverse side-effects.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Tee claims that psychiatrists just page through a book to decide what to prescribe for their patients.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Aren't there a lot of commercials for law firms that ask if you've been injured in a car accident? Does that prove something, Bonky?

      April 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      I have never advocated eliminating drugs.

      But if you can avoid them through life style changes then you will be better off.

      If you must take a drug do it very cautiously. Read what others have experienced with the drug. Read the counter indications. Avoid mixing drugs.

      When you go to the Doctor and he writes another prescription do your own homework about the effects of taking one with the other.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Does your nose grow every time you post?

      April 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      Tee claims that psychiatrists just page through a book to decide what to prescribe for their patients.

      That is the first thing you claim I have said that is correct.

      The Insurance company provides a database of acceptable treatments and the Pharmaceutical company provides a database of recommended drugs.

      You never did address the conflict of interest point.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Avoid mixing drugs." Another generalization that you have no qualifications for making. There are many drugs that work best in tandem with another drug. That's why people prescribing them are required to be MDs, not anonymous nuts on a blog.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • ME II

      Being an informed and knowledgeable patient is important, but one shouldn't over simplify the use of prescription drugs. If you have concerns about the side effects of a drug consult your doctor or pharmacist, don't attempt to self-medicate or substi.tute "alternative medicine" (especially homeopathic).

      April 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "You never did address the conflict of interest point."

      I never addressed it for the same reason I never addressed your silly claim that doctors just prescribe what pharmaceutical companies recommend: because you haven't proven that either claim has any basis in fact. I don't need to refute something just because some idiot says it's true.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      You have spent a lot of time pretending to refute things I never said.

      When the doctor does not follow the database the Insurance Company refuses to pay and tells you to try again.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Again, you are claiming something that has no basis in actual fact. Therefore, I have nothing to refute.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Tee

      Why do you continue to avoid actually providing any kind of backing for your claims?

      April 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      You would actually need to state something important for your opinion to matter to any of us Tommy Tom Tom.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      @hawaiiguest

      BUTT OUT unless Tom is your spouse

      April 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      If you were willing to educate yourself you would have read the links I already posted.

      But then you would already know that over medication and mixing medication is a problem in our society.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • The real Tom

      How do you know he isn't?

      And why should he butt out regardless? This isn't your private chat, dear. You sound a little cranky. Go have your cookies and milk. You may be suffering from low blood sugar.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • ME II

      "When the doctor does not follow the database the Insurance Company refuses to pay and tells you to try again."

      I assume you are talking about formularies that dictate the order of different drugs to try for a given diagnosis. Yes, doctors do follow such things, however, they can disregard them when necessary and they also tend to make "off label" prescriptions, i.e. prescriptions for conditions that the drug is not specifically indicated for.
      If you don't have some trust in your doctor, you may as well not see them.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "But then you would already know that over medication and mixing medication is a problem in our society."

      Your links don't prove anything of the sort, but that's okay, since no one made any claims about those issues in the first place.

      You're boring.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "How do you know he isn't? "

      I did not post that. And as far as I am concerned he is welcome to troll as much as you are.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Tee

      You mean the single link you posted which does nothing but give a few anecdotes and statements from a single pharmacist? Soooo convincing lol. Not to mention when you were called on those exact points, you disappeared from that thread and started this one. The time stamps on comments out you for what you are. A coward who expects not to be challenged on anything and gets angry when people have the audacity to ask for actual evidence.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "If you don't have some trust in your doctor,"

      Blind trust gets both Doctors and patients in trouble. I know some doctors are as frustrated at being hamstrung by this system as the patients are.

      Can you imagine going deep into debt through years of schooling to have some clerk tell you what you can and should do to in the practice of your craft?

      April 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      JUST WATCH!!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSgzgbHxuCc

      April 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • JWT

      There is a guide as to what meds may work for what illness.

      Insurance companies insure certain meds routinely and others may or may not be covered to some extent based on a doctors decision. Not all insurance coverage denies meds just because they are not the routine prescription for an illness.

      Meds have side effects. Sometimes these side-effects are worth it and sometimes not. Sometimes other meds are needed to overcome the side-effects, this does not automatically make the original choice a bad one.It is a question of judgement relying on many factors/

      Some anti-depressants look like they can cause suicidal thoughts. Fortunately there are many different types to choose from and a good doctor will look for another type.

      Until a person is stable on meds supervision is required to ensure that things go as expected.desired. Depending on the patient, meds, family etc this may mean anything from see the doc to a stay in the hospital.

      The pharmacy industry is out there to make money for their employees and shareholders. Doctors are the middleman who care about their patients well being. I know that back when my son first was prescribed anti-psychotics at 14 or 15 he had the choice, unstated, of meds or admission to the hospital. The quest then was the right med at the right dose. It took a couple of years.

      I don;t believe that the majority of doctors just see a symptom and prescribe, yet we do not have enough mental health care to allow doctors time to properly care for all people who need care so too often that is what does happen, of course right now in history the alternative is getting no help.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Tee

      Ok. I'm done with you. If your response to actual points is some conspiracy stupidity from Jesse Ventura, then you're obviously to fucking stupid to even bother with. Have fun with your paranoid psychosis.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "Sometimes these side-effects are worth it and sometimes not."

      That is where this topic got started several pages back.
      I made the point that if a patient is going off his medication that there might be a reason and it should be a "heads up" to the Doctor.

      the pill poppers took offense from get go.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • clarity

      LOL – regarding the video – I suppose Bildegerger or whatever it was would have been a good name for a local burger joint decades ago. Now that I see that this Tee idiot is into conspiracy theory garbage (and having see some of the other silly posts it has made against the medical profession, I feel confident in saying Tee is simply bonkers out the whazoo.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Tee

      Oh, and don't forget to watch out for the government mind control waves and the hidden reptilian overlords. Gotta keep an eye out for them or they might set up another 9-11 disaster.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "If your response to actual points is some conspiracy stupidity from Jesse Ventura,"

      If you are dumb enough to fall for uncharacteristic and unrelated post by a troll then it is no wonder you have made no points of your own.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, they didn't. Another straw man? Aren't you tired of using them?

      Of course side effects can be a problem. And doctors do investigate why patients aren't taking medications-when the patient bothers to tell them. Sometimes patients decide to stop taking what has been prescribed and they don't tell their doctors. Shocker!

      Do you HAVE a point?

      April 8, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • clarity

      Seems right in line with all the other crap you've been spewing and taken a huge hit on there Tee.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Clarity, you expected better from some clown who thinks the word "doctor" is capitalized when it's not at the beginning of a sentence or used as part of someone's t itle?

      April 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Tee

      The one point I've made is that you have offered nothing of substance to back up your claims. If your entire case rests on not questioning where you're getting your information, and you not having to actually prove anything, then you have absolutely nothing. Your constant avoidance of actually addressing any point made is a good indicator of your unwillingness to actually have a discussion.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "Those of you scoffing my position that Pharmaceuticals push drugs" What in the San Hill do you think drug companies are supposed to do? Burger chains push burgers the same way. It's their job.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • JWT

      Doctors look at it if they know – but there is not always a clear answer.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "Burger chains push burgers the same way. It's their job."

      And it is the Patient's responsibility to educate themselves rather than popping every cool pill advertised and pushed.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Doy, doy, doy. And water is wet, dumb sh!t.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "Doctors look at it if they know – but there is not always a clear answer."

      And that was another point that offended the pill poppers.

      The job is not done once a drug has been prescribed. The pursuit for the elimination of the causes of the problem should continue.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And again, sometimes there IS NO IDENTIFIABLE CAUSE or the cause is not one which can be ameliorated. What part of that can you not grasp? Illnesses, including mental illnesses can be idiopathic and intractable. Finding some cause is not necessarily going to end the illness. Therapy may help, but not in all cases.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      "but not in all cases." is the part of your point that you should consider, pill popper.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • The real Tom

      What a shame for you they don't make pills that would give you some intelligence and the ability to comprehend what you read.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Tee totally bonkers

      After all this trolling you finally attempt to make a point and it supports my position. 🙂

      April 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Your "position" is cranial-rectal inversion.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Cool I'm on another ignore list apparently.

      April 8, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  15. A Christian

    Dear Ed,
    Thank you for your thoughtful article. I agree the church can do more – I am saddened by comments posted that are misguided and hateful. Keep writing.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  16. Joe

    I think bringing mentally ill people to a place like church where they have made a centuries long practice of creating mentally ill people is a real bad idea.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  17. Calv1n

    I'm sorry if this offends, but my mother was bipolar for over 40 years and one of her triggers was religion. The magical nature of religious belief amplified her disconnection from reality and was terribly, terribly harmful to her mental health.

    I'm afraid it has been my family's experience that religion undercut mental stability. Churches may wish to help, but I think their ability to do so is limited by the type of thinking they promote as part of their religious belief.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  18. William Polhamus

    Christianity is the biggest lie ever told to the human race. It is simply used to control people, and it should be classified as a mental illness.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Patrish

      Control is the key word. If you don't fall into their belief, you are a sinner, or evil and GOD needs to fix you.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  19. MEATPASTE

    The biggest differences between attending a weekly brainwash Sunday visitation versus visiting a psychologist is that the psychologist will cost less and you'll actually get help.

    April 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • inspiration

      or not. Psychology is not a cure, they have ways to go.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  20. Farrok

    What? Churches and Christian Faith are one of the main causes of Mental Illness. If you wish to remain mentally sound and mentally healthy stay away from crackpot churches and crackpot faiths. Jesus will not save you from mental illness, medication and therapy will…………….

    April 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Nannalow

      You should try actually attending a church.

      April 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Kegan

      Which one?

      April 8, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "You should try actually attending a church." Tell me which one you attend and I'll find you a thousand people right here saying you are a dupe and hellbound. See, there's no such thing as 'the real church.' Every church hates every other church for worshiping Jesus the wrong way.

      April 8, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.