Resolution – To Help Others With Mental Illness

Resolution - To Help Others With Mental Illness

Models used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Katie S. Brown, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher and the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Indiana.

One good New Year’s resolution for all of us might be to do whatever we can to prevent tragedies such as happened just before Christmas in Newtown, Connecticut by reaching out to troubled individuals.

According to ABC Good Morning America, Adam Lanza “suffered from a condition where he could literally feel no pain…” He was “not connected with the other kids…and was obviously not well.”

Lanza was not alone in his suffering. According to the Archives of General Psychiatry “an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.”

Depression is a form of mental illness that may lead to suicide. That is in an area we can help by being alert to the warning signs of suicide: significant mood swings or changes in diet or sleep patterns; talking about wanting to hurt themselves, and increased substance use. If we notice these in a friend, colleague or neighbor, we can start by reaching out with love. This might create an opportunity to connect them to supportive services and give them opportunities to strengthen their connections with people – a key deterrent to suicide. One additional important resource is places of worship where people gather for fellowship and prayer.

Evidence of the positive role prayer and spirituality can play in improving both physical and mental health is on the rise. Both are important, of course, because long-term pain or other physical distress can also lead to depression and mental stress. Add one of these to winter blues, loneliness or family pressures and the result can be overwhelming for some.

Examples of success with prayer in physical healing can be found in Healing Words by Larry Dossey, M.D.,and according to American Psychologist ,There is now a substantial literature that connects religion and spirituality to physical health…Koenig, McCullough, & Larson, 2001…and mental health (Larson et al., 1998; Plante & Sherman, 2001).”

Harold Koenig, M.D. in his Research on Religion, Spirituality, and Mental Health: A Review states “Religious and spiritual factors are increasingly being examined in psychiatric research. …Many people suffering from the pain of mental illness, emotional problems, or situational difficulties seek refuge in religion for comfort, hope, and meaning. …religious involvement is related to better coping with stress and less depression, suicide, anxiety, and substance abuse.”

Key to religiosity playing a positive role in mental health is a view of God as close, loving and forgiving not judging and condemning.  A God of compassion adds strength to those praying for the release from the fear and suffering that come with depression. The Bible tells us, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee… (Isaiah 41:10).”

Several years ago a college student, deeply depressed and feeling suicidal, called me to pray for and with her to lift her sense of sadness and isolation from others. I went to see her often and spent time with her, including going to church together. She began to feel happier, made new friends, and resumed her studies. To see the change in her made that winter one of my best!

The beginning of 2013 is an opportunity to give our love to others. Consider how much difference each of us, loving and helping someone who is suffering from depression, will add to the joy of the New Year!

About the author

Guest We are pleased to present Notes from the Field authors, who are assistant committees and church members in the Southern California region; and Notes from The Mother Church authors, who are Committees from the United States and around the world, as well as the Federal Committee on Publication office.


  1. Bill Priest San Diego says

    I totally agree. Limiting guns, rather than focusing on the problem, which is good mental health is key to stopping all the senseless violence in our society. I try to keep an eye out for those in need, that I feel I can help. We are our brother’s keeper. God will inspire us to help in an appropriate way to each one we come in contact with. God will also protect us, so that we are never in harms way.
    ” I will listen for thy voice, lest my footsteps stray.” Hymn 301 Christian Science Hymnal

  2. Tracy says

    Excellent article! I recently had a friend reach out and let me know that she was scared of her depression and often had thoughts of taking her own life. We prayed together and affirmed her spiritual identity, and I asked her to make a list of all the qualities she wanted to express in her life but felt she was lacking. We discussed those together and I think her perspective has changed for the better. It is indeed up to us to reach out to those in need – it’s the best way to love our neighbors as Jesus commanded.

  3. Pamela says

    Great article and so needed. Thanks for sharing.

    Love always has been and always will be the best healing agent. I know of nothing that heals better or more thoroughly.