Monday, May 12, 2014

Answers to five important questions about being in denial that you have a mental illness

This blog is a repost from 20012.  My reason for posting is because of the blanket of stigma that still exists in the evangelical churches.  You cannot get away with denying a disease that really exists.
This repost makes you aware of this danger.

Copyright, All rights reserved, 2012, Steve Bloem

1.  Why will some persons not refer others to a psychiatrist nor go to one themselves? 

Answer -The term “psychiatrist” still has a stigma attached to it. One of the worst things to happen for many people is for them to walk into a psychiatric office. Often there is a quick side-glance and the blushing patient takes her seat.
The media has often portrayed a psychiatrist as an eccentric man or woman, who is a bit “wacko” himself.  It suggests that the person who goes to him/her is “weird” and has “emotional problems.”  The term “psycho-pharmacologist” is much more acceptable as a descriptive name of those who treat mental illness. A psychiatrist rarely does therapy today. He is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing diseases of the mind and choosing the right medications to arrest the symptoms.

2.  If mentally ill people deny that they have a disease, some problems may come to the surface. 
    What are some of these?
Answer - If people are in denial about having mental illness, they will almost never go and get the treatment needed to relieve their misery.  They will try to "go it alone."  In a time of severe psychic pain with the ‘right’ circumstances, they will kill themselves in order to move away from the pain. Another problem of denial is that mental illness untreated  exasperates  family and they speak harshly with them for not seeking and finding the help that is so abundantly available. They either kick the person out of their home or detach themselves from the sufferer and his many problems.

3.  How important is it to have a general knowledge of the symptoms of mental illness?  What kind of training in the church would help?
Answer - A church in denial, especially one that is willfully ignorant can crush the mentally ill. There are two main reasons why it is important to know the symptoms of mental illness: The first is that mental illness is a neuro-degenerative disease.  It does more damage to your brain if you just let it run its course.  The second reason is that knowledge of symptoms leads to correct diagnosis of the illness.  Pastors and lay leaders need to know these symptoms and know how and where to refer those who have them.   Every Seminary Bible College should have a class on the pastoral theology of mental illness, about symptom detection and other practical ways to help those who are mentally ill.

4. Do you know what the term “smiling depression” means?  Explain.
Answer - The term means that those persons who are depressed and cannot rid themselves of their symptoms, begin to cover their depression by not acting sad or admitting to others the severity of their pain.  It may seem helpful but it is not.  You cannot hide mental illness.

 5 Do you think that mental illness is a character flaw?  Has anyone accused you of this?

Answer -  No, it is not a character flaw. If you say that it is, you are insulting the mentally ill in two ways: first, you deny how hard they are battling the illness and secondly, you are “blaming the victim.”  Personally, I have been told over and over again that my mental illness is not acceptable to God or His church. This has been a cause of grief for me especially early in my treatment.

Heartfelt Ministries can help you start a biblical support group.  The material has already been tested and it works.  Robyn and Steve have also written a book that many have said is one of the best books they have ever read on the subject.

If you would like to know more about their book Broken Minds Hope for Healing When You Feel Like You're Losing It, go to:

 We sell CAMI -Starter/Leader/ Student Guides and Broken Minds.If you wish to  contact me my email is
                               Thanks, Rev. Steve Bloem
                               Director of Heartfelt Ministries
                                Palm Beach Gardens, FL

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