How many times have you heard the saying, “prayer changes things” ? If you have, then you were probably raised in the church or a family of believers. Prayer is powerful but does prayer remove one’s psychological illness? Depending on who you talk to some would say yes.
Yet, no matter how much you pray, physiological changes in the brain are not removed through spiritual or religious practices. Still, there are people who believe that the more you pray the better off your mental status. Let’s examine some of the fables we tell ourselves to prevent us from getting better:
- Myth: You’re being unfaithful by allowing yourself to be depressed. How someone comes to be depressed or have any other mental illness is not a result of being unfaithful, undutiful or sinful. Mental illness is a disorder that affects your mood, thoughts and behaviors. Most people don’t create illness in their life because they want to suffer. Living with mental illness is not an easy life to live.
- Myth: You’re not praying hard enough, that’s why you’re sick. Prayer is important to a lot of people, but praying more often doesn’t consistently lessen the symptoms that manifest in the mentally ill. It may alleviate some of the immediate ones, but in most cases when people believe this they’re less inclined to seek professional help because of the guilt they feel for doing so. As a result, their symptoms over time become worse, carry over to multiple areas of their life, they have more challenges with coping and often feel internally out of place or alone.
- Myth: There is something wrong with you that you don’t believe God can fix this! Blaming people for being ill should be a moral offense. No one asks to be sick. Of the numbers of people who seek mental health treatment, African Americans and Latinos seek out mental health treatment the least. In most cases, they go to their pastors or priests first or remain silent about their suffering altogether. In many cases, by the time African Americans and Latinos get the help they need they are either more chronically ill or forced into treatment as a consequence of the legal system (accusations of criminal activity and arrests).
Mental illness is a serious public issue and one we cannot continue to ignore. Education, prayer, insight and understanding all help the process of getting the help one needs.
Obviously, the cultural context by which one lives influences that. However, if there’s anything we should look to change about this are the perspectives by which culture hinders the choices we make.
#MentalHealth Myth Buster: Prayer Heals All Things, Including Mental Illness? was originally published on blackdoctor.org