Millennial Musing
January 30, 2018
Mental illness isn’t an imaginary condition that can be wished away

If you look around at our homeless population, you will quickly realize that all of them likely suffer from some form of mental illness. You might disagree and say some of them are junkies. However, the United States National Institute of Mental Health classifies addiction as a mental illness; so, yes, even the junkies are mentally ill.

Quite frankly our mental home, to all intents and purposes, functions as a holding place for the mentally ill. After being admitted, some patients are simply checked in and forgotten by their families. There are some instances where people check out and go on to live healthy lives; however, this depends on the severity of the illness and the availability of medication.

Overall, it is abundantly clear that the mentally ill are largely ignored and forgotten by society. The average citizen knows so little about mental illness, even the college graduates seem ignorant. Mental illness is barely taught in school, not to mention most schools don’t even have a readily accessible psychologist. It is no longer sufficient to have a religious counsellor mishandling delicate children. Some students have very dark experiences and need professional and confidential help. Our country’s deficiencies in terms of mental health care are quite frankly deplorable and dangerous.

Did you know people can be mentally ill and highly functional? Typically, we picture the mentally ill as comatose or wild. However, this is a false and dangerous stereotype. Individuals can appear completely “normal” and accomplish great things, all while suffering on the inside. We’re always shocked when a successful man commits suicide, or a well-off woman becomes a drug addict.

If you woke up one morning with a broken arm and no memory of how you broke it, what would you do? Suppose you consulted your friend and they suggested you pray about it. You don’t visit the doctor or the hospital, you simply pray and hope it goes away. Logically speaking, that would be a silly thing to do. Leaving a broken bone untreated could lead to nerve damage or deformity; therefore, getting a cast is standard procedure for broken bones. Conversely, whenever someone is having a mental problem, we decide the most helpful thing to do is pray.

Given that we live in a Christian society, I understand why prayer is often suggested. However, it does very little to help the mentally ill. Some people might become very offended by such a claim; however, I stand my ground. If you had cancer, would you forgo chemotherapy for prayer? There is nothing wrong with praying in times of darkness; however, it is not enough. Mental illness isn’t an imaginary condition that can be wished away. I know there is no shortage of testimonies of people who prayed away depression. Sometimes depression can be a result of your environment and sometimes it can be clinical and requires medication. Imagine someone suffering from depression and wondering why no matter how hard they pray, they just can’t get better.

Mental illness is by no means as straightforward as a broken bone; however, it is an illness. Your brain can get sick, just like any other organ in the body and ignoring your mental health is doing a disservice to your loved ones and society.

For questions, comments and queries, please contact me at [email protected]