Mental Illness, Religion, and Spirituality

Kitt O'Malley

Healing, recovery, or simply living with a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder may require medical, psychological, and spiritual support. Struggling with mental illness can at times feel like spiritual war. As someone living with bipolar disorder, while in the deepest of depressions, I’ve experienced what I can only describe as a living hell, and while hypomanic or manic, I’ve believed myself called by God to a higher purpose.

When churches demonize or ostracize the mentally ill, they quite frankly sin by hurting those in need of love and compassion. Many people first go their faith community for help. Churches and faith communities MUST be compassionate and refer people to the proper resources to address their psychiatric or psychological needs. Belief and prayer do not make brain disorders miraculously disappear, but a loving community – religious or secular – can offer support, encouragement, and hope.

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