Faith and Mental Illness
Jim McNaughton has struggled for years with mental illness. Although medication controls his schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, faith has fed his soul.
“Taking the medication and then accepting Christ was when my life really began,” said McNaughton. “I needed the medicine to heal my brain before I could even get to know Jesus.”
For McNaughton, faith has become an integral part of his treatment. But the spiritual health has been neglected and ignored for far too long by those in the mental health field. McNaughton thinks it is time for this fact to change.
“You wouldn’t tell a diabetic to withhold insulin,” said McNaughton. “Pastors and the mental health community have a lot to learn from each other.”
Many people need to be educated about the role of faith and spirituality in treating mental illness.
“Both groups need training to try to open up this conversation,” said Dr. Nancy Kehoe, a psychologist and Catholic nun who, for 30 years led religious and spiritual therapy groups. “There’s a growing awareness that this ought to be explored in working with people.”
People benefit, Kehoe said, from finding a place in a supportive faith environment and believing in “a God who is for them, not against them.”