Depression and Anxiety in the Church

Jerome Gay Jr.   -  

This past Sunday we  continued in our sermon series, War, on Spiritual Warfare and dealt with the very important topics of anxiety, depression and suicide. Typically, these are taboo subjects in the church, but it’s vital that the church engages these subjects with love because many people are suffering in silence.

Paul told us about the helmet of salvation, not just for our heads, but for our minds:

Ephesians 6:17
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit ​— ​which is the word of God.

I was reminded of this as a well-known pastor by the name of Jarrid Wilson took his own life earlier last week and I’ve talked with many pastors and people in ministries struggling with depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

Here’s 5 Sobering Statistics:
  1. Over 80 percent of people who are clinically depressed are not receiving treatment.
  2. The number of people diagnosed with depression increases by 30 percent every year.
  3. An estimated 121 million people around the world suffer from depression.
  4. In 2013 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans
  5. In 2013 someone died by suicide every 12.8 minutes.

A verse that haunts me as I survey the church’s response to these statistics and those that are suffering is found in Job:

Job 16:1-2
Then Job answered: 2 I have heard many things like these. You are all miserable comforters.

The church hasn’t responded well to these alarming numbers. In many ways, we’ve been  “miserable comforters” by…

  1. Misdiagnosing People by telling them that they need pray harder, sing louder, believe more or that taking medication is a lack of faith.
  2. Denying their Struggle by telling them to not ‘speak’ depression over their lives and therefore we’re actually encouraging people not trust God by confessing areas where they need His strength.
  3. Telling People that depression and anxiety are connected to personal sin exclusively.
  4. Making fun of mental illness with our language.
  5. Downplaying their Power by acknowledging the effects of depression and anxiety more than the power of God to overcome it.

There’s no guilt in mental illness because depression is a kind of cancer that attacks the mind.

You don’t shame cancer, you treat cancer.

You don’t treat those with hurting insides as less than. You get them the most treatment.

How can we care for people better?
  • Practicing the power of presence AND silence.
  • Listening without fixing.
  • Not responding with clichés (ex. Everything happens for a reason…).Instead of a cliché, be someone they can cling to.
  • Offer to go with them to their first session and if you can to pay for it.
  • Let them know that it’s not always their fault.
  • Realize that you don’t have everything they need.
Raleigh Organizations that can help with Anxiety and Depression:
  • Raleigh Dream Center 919-867-4446 (Serving recipients of Medicaid, serving those experiencing trauma, mental health symptoms and abuse).
  • Accelerating Men, Inc. 864-621-0508 (Faith-based mentoring program for boys ages 10-18).
  • Olive Branch Family Therapy 919-428-7746 (Serving individuals, families and couples)
  • The Hope Counseling Center (www.thehopecounselingcenter.org)
  • Bridge Haven Counseling 919-321 – 2275 (Serving families and individuals)
  • Lifecare Counseling and Coaching 919-851-1527 (ask for Jeremy George)
  • Reach Out 1-800-273-8255 (helps people battling suicidal thoughts)
  • Yelverton’s Enrichment Services  (919) 872-6220
  • Rosario Counseling 919-649-5882

Family, I want to encourage you to be vulnerable if you’re struggling in any of the aforementioned areas. Not being vulnerable doesn’t allow people the opportunity to hold you up and we’re told to hold each other up.

Vision Church is a place where you can take communion and anti-depressants. We’ll come alongside you, believing God to heal you, but in the meantime, there’s no shame in taking medication. Jesus Christ nailed ALL shame to the cross (Col. 2:14).

Jesus is with you while you struggle, and He’s given you the power (Him) to overcome it, no matter what.

Victory has the last word!

Watch the Full Sermon:

Here are some of my prayers for us as a church:
  1. I want Vision Church to be a place where people know they don’t have to suffer in silence.
  2. I want Vision Church to be a place that offers tangible ways for people get the help they need to be restored.
  3. I want Vision Church to love people the way Christ does.

“Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.” – Jarrid Wilson

I hope this message provides a sense of comfort for those struggling and please share it with anyone you know that could be helped by it.