Mental illness is a general term commonly used to cover a wide range of psychoneurological disorders. There are those who are truly ill, suffering some type of malfunction due to a brain injury, an inherited illness, or a glandular or chemical imbalance. Such cases should be referred to appropriate trained professionals.
There are, however, many behaviors often classified as mental illness which are the result of unresolved sinful attitudes or conduct. Those affected may display the symptoms of illness, but many times these symptoms are stressrelated and due to spiritual problems. At times such people are feigning illness rather than facing the reality of their situation. They will blame other people and circumstances for their problems in order to divert attention from themselves: “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God. . . . The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me— she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’” (Genesis 3:8, 12–13, NIV).
It would be a disservice merely to treat the symptoms or excuse such a person just “because of the way he is.” The fact is that he or she will never feel good until he or she corrects the problem. The first step in recovery is to assume personal responsibility for wrong attitudes and actions: “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13, NIV). “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12, NIV).
Change is possible, if such an individual will face reality and:
• Lay bare his or her life before God.
• Repent of what is wrong in attitudes and actions.
• Confess it to God with the intention of abandoning it in favor of newness of life in Christ Jesus.
Many lives have been redirected through receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The power of the Word of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, unleashed in a life, have positive effects.
1. Encourage the inquirer by saying that he or she has called the right place and that you are glad to talk with him or her and to help if you can.
2. Be prepared to listen if the inquirer is willing to talk. Ask questions as needed to stimulate the conversation, hoping that something will emerge to give you the opportunity to suggest a spiritual solution.
3. When you feel the time is opportune, ask if he or she has ever received Christ as Lord and Savior. Share the gospel – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD
His or her commitment may initiate a new awareness and a new perception which will provide the desire and the motivation for facing the “mental illness” with reality and determination.
4. Encourage Bible reading and study. Offer to help him or her begin study – Your New Life In Christ Bible Study. This discipline will help direct his or her thoughts toward the Lord, which will bring an inner peace (Isaiah 26:3).
5. Encourage daily prayer.
6. Recommend becoming involved in a Bible-teaching church where he or she can worship, enjoy Christian fellowship, and serve Christ.
7. Pray with the inquirer personally that a commitment to Christ might redirect his or her attitudes and actions and produce a life that is pleasing to God. Read Romans 12:1–2, pointing out that by following these principles, he or she can become a whole person.
8. Recommend seeking further counseling with a Christian pastor or psychologist, so that there will be a continuity in the treatment of the problems in the light of Scripture. If the inquirer is a Christian with unresolved personal problems, share about Restoration and then review the Follow-Up Steps – Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God: but they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely. For the Lord watches over all the plans and paths of godly men, but the paths of the godless lead to doom” (Psalm 1:1–2, 6, TLB).
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isaiah 26:3).
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18–19).
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1–2, NIV).
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996