The Bible does not specifically refer to the topic of mental health, however, it does speak a lot about a person’s emotions, their mind, their soul, and their heart. Mental health is an extremely important topic that all people need to be familiar with today.
Often in the past, primitive beliefs taught that mental problems were directly related to Satan and were the result of demonic possession, however, this is not true. Many people struggle with mental health problems today, but this does not mean they are possessed, nor does it mean they are not saved.
The Bible and Mental Health
Some of the common ailments associated with mental health are anxiety and depression. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 264 million people struggle with depression and 40 million people struggle with anxiety (“Facts & Statistics”).
It is a true reality that anybody can struggle with their mental health whether the individual is young or old, a believer or an unbeliever. If you struggle with mental health, you are not alone.
Other mental health problems in addition to anxiety and depression include eating disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and PTSD. Each of these illnesses can happen to a person for a variety of reasons.
Thus, it is crucial that as believers, we do not judge, belittle, or condemn those struggling with mental illnesses. Rather than condemning those with mental illness, Christians are to help, show kindness, and love them (John 13:34-35).
The Body and the Mind
The individual’s body and mind are both factors of a person’s mental health. If a person’s mind and body are having difficulties, a person’s mental state will suffer as well. Elijah was a prophet who struggled with suicidal thoughts during a difficult time in his life.
1 Kings 19:4 informs us of Elijah’s struggle, “While he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’”
God did not take Elijah’s life, but rather, gave him the strength to keep going. God helped Elijah by providing Elijah with a good nap and a good meal (1 Kings 19:5-8).
After Elijah had slept and ate, he was ready to continue on with the work of the Lord. While those who struggle with suicidal thoughts may not feel better after taking a nap or eating a good meal, God does not want any person to take their life.
If a Christian is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they need to seek out medical help, therapy, and most importantly, pray to God about their feelings. There is nothing wrong with seeking help from doctors, therapists, or counselors. God has placed professional doctors, therapists, and counselors in their positions for a reason.
Anxiety is a common thing people struggle with. Normally, doctors do not diagnose somebody with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) unless the individual’s anxiety interferes with their daily lives.
The Bible does specifically talk about anxiety as 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” God wants you to give all of your worries, cares, and concerns to Him. If you humble yourself under His Mighty Hand, you will uphold you and strengthen you (1 Peter 5:6).
Another Bible passage that speaks about anxiety is Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Whenever you are struggling with anxiety or fear, pray to God. He can help you let go of anxiety and will give you strength. God is always faithful, and you can always depend on Him. Only Jesus gives the true peace that surpasses all understanding.
Depression is another common mental health problem people can struggle with during their life. Having the diagnosis of depression does not make you less of a Christian or less than a person. In fact, nobody is less than a person if they have any type of mental illness.
Depression is very common and can be caused by genetics, internal conflicts, or a person’s environment. God walks alongside us as we struggle with depression. David writes in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
God is always with you — no matter where you find yourself today or any day in the future. God can turn your sadness into dancing in time (Psalm 30:11). While an individual’s depression may never be cured in this lifetime, when the believer goes to Heaven, there will be no more sadness as the believer will be with God forever.
3. Eating Disorders
There is nothing in the Bible specifically on eating disorders, however, there is much to say about taking care of your body. The Bible tells us that our bodies are temples (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God does not want anyone to destroy their body by restricting food, purging food, or over-exercising.
Each individual is made in God’s Image (Genesis 1:27). Similarly, each person is fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16). Eating disorders can be triggered by the world we live in, where beauty is equated with thinness and restriction.
However, this is not true beauty. God looks at our hearts — not our outward appearance (1 Samuel 16:7). Eating disorders are not about vanity despite stigmas surrounding this illness. Eating disorders are normally a coping mechanism when an individual feels their life is out of control.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder today, know that God loves you just the way you are and that you are beautiful. Eating disorders can receive proper help from trained doctors and eating disorder therapists.
What Can I Do?
If you are struggling with mental illness, there are several things you can do. As stated previously, it is important to seek help from doctors, counselors, and therapists. Each of these people will be able to get you the best care you need in order to feel better and be more productive for the Lord.
The Bible tells us we should fill our minds with good things. The Apostle Paul urges us to think on the positive rather than the negative.
Paul states in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
Whenever you feel anxiety, panic, or depression rising, think about the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy.
Whenever you feel negative thoughts are encroaching into your mind, you can expel them out by refuting them with Scripture. It is vital that we put on the full armor of God to take our stand against the devil (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Reciting, memorizing, and meditating on Bible verses can help you feel better, realign your thoughts to God, and help you better fight off anxiety, negative self-image, or depression. Praying to God about any struggles you have will also be beneficial to you and strengthen you.
Therefore, having a mental illness is not a sin and does not mean you are any less of a Christian because you suffer from a mental illness. Mental illnesses are a result of the fall of Adam. If you struggle with mental illnesses, doctors, therapists, and counselors are there to help you.
No person should go through life on their own, especially if they struggle with a mental illness. The term “mental illness” has a stigma surrounding it but understand that God can help you live a life of service to Him. Even though your mental illness may not be cured during your life, God will be with you through it all.
Editor’s Note: Anxiety disorder is a real illness and can feel very scary and isolating. If you or someone you know are struggling with anxiety, call or see your physician. If you or someone you know are in crisis and need immediate support, here are a few hotlines you can call or text for help: https://www.goodencenter.org/panic-and-anxiety-hotlines/, National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255.
For further reading:
What Does the Bible Say about Anxiety?
Is God with Us in Our Depression?
Should Christians Be Involved in Diet Culture?
What Does the Bible Say about Worry?
What Should Christians Know about Secular Vs. Biblical Psychology?
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/demaerre
Vivian Bricker loves Jesus, studying the Word of God, and helping others in their walk with Christ. She has earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master's degree in Christian Ministry with a deep academic emphasis in theology. Her favorite things to do are spending time with her family and friends, reading, and spending time outside. When she is not writing, she is embarking on other adventures.