Hand Me the Holy Water: Mental Illness and the Black Christian

What do Christians do about mental illness? Should we look to scripture, science, or both?

Christianity has always been the center point in the African-American community.

During the era of slavery, slaves used Christianity as a beckon of hope, hoping that one day they will be released from their Caucasian oppressors, and finally experience the luxury of freedom they dreamed of.

From generation to generation, African-Americans use religion as a way to escape life’s situations.

Christians believed that prayer could solve any political, social, economical, and personal aspects of one’s life.

The term mental illness is taboo amongst the black church, so taboo that those who are a part of the extremist lane of the religion would brush the illness off and insist that the individual who’s suffering from the illness should just go to the altar.

Christians feel that mental illness is a spirit instead of an illness and that you can just pray the spirit away.

Or they feel like the cure for such illness is bible verses and suggested prayer twice a day, morning and night.

There are several ways to treat the plethora of mental illnesses, but brushing off the disease as if it is just a minor cough or sneeze cannot save the victim from their own mental prison.

Personally having family members who suffers with an array of mental illnesses (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.) and being raised in a Christian family household, I saw first hand how distant these two facets are and how unhelpful the family strategies were.

The downward spiral my family members who suffered from the disease went through was tremendously dark and lonely. Only when the victim goes to the extreme (attempting suicide or have a terrible delusional episode) is when the family would take the victim to the hospital for help.

Never should it take a person trying to take his or her own life; should family or a friend take an illness seriously. When the signs start to transcend to the surface that’s when action should be taken.

Religion, in my opinion, is only a part of human existence simply to give people something to believe in, keeping a person on a steady positive road, and help guide them through life. Life has a way of throwing rocks on a person’s already rocky road.

The one thing Christianity teaches is “prayer without work is dead”, so this statement should be taken into consideration when a family is suffering from any illness; you can pray all you want but what work are you putting in to save this person’s life? Mental health is prevalent to living holistically.

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