Struggling with Mental Health Doesn’t Make You Any Less Christian


I don’t know about you but the shame that circulates mental illness breaks my heart.

“What do you mean by mental illness?”, some ask me.

As I explained in a previous post about depression,

Whether it be depression, anxiety, PTSD, personality or mood disorders, etc, mental illness is very much like a physical illness. Many people have a hard time coming to grips with mental health because the mind is less tangible.

This is also the reason why many people don’t get help or isolate their issues until they’re too distressed to pull themselves out. There are no scars or bleeding to show proof that something is wrong. Instead it may look like a dysfunction in mental processing. However, it’s all a common health issue just the same.

Just like a cold or virus, some mental illnesses happen for an episode, are treated and then never come back or rarely show up again.

Some mental illnesses are more chronic and ongoing, which is more complex to cure and has long-term, serious effects but still has the potential to be treated and managed over time.

Nevertheless, the best way we can make sure we’re in a healthy mental state and in the best place is to educate ourselves non-judgmentally on mental health.


First, we need a proper perspective.

We are bio-psycho-spiritual beings. We have biological factors. We have psychological factors. And at the core of it all is the spirit within us.

There are two perspectives I’ve seen that take an overgeneralized approach to mental health.

  1. The secular or humanistic view- Says that all we can address is what’s observable. Spirituality is only useful when it helps behavior. But for the most part mental health is about the chemicals in our brain, methods of therapy that have proven to work, and it’s all a science.
  2. The absolute spiritual view- Says that it is 100% a spiritual matter. People who think in these absolutes don’t consider the fact that God has also made us to operate within physical elements and that he uses people through practical skills to help others. Automatic stigmas, unfortunately, birth from this view such as mental illness being a demon or a lack of faith. This view ends up being more harmful and hurtful.

Here’s the problem with both views for the Christian:

The secular view doesn’t take the work of God into account. We know we are not just flesh and blood, but there are spirits and unseen principalities at work (Ephesians 6:12). It doesn’t equip us in spiritual warfare or address the ultimate remedy for our broken humanity and that is Jesus.

While this view isn’t so embracive to the sovereignty of God, it still has practical skills and reasonable logic to offer. To completely rule it out would be ignorant. Even if your doctor isn’t Christian, they know how to fix your broken leg because God has given us brains to use practical knowledge and common sense. We have to remember that God is the foundation of wisdom and He endows people with the gifts and knowledge for the benefit of humanity even if they don’t recognize it comes from Him.

The absolute spiritual view doesn’t have the balance of taking physical nature into account. We know that God can do miracles that supersede the natural. We know that prayer and deliverance can do a spiritual work in us that man can’t equate to in his own human limitations. However, there are times God also uses the physical for addressing the physical. There is a reason that Jesus became a physical man. There is a reason God used a physical sacrifice to atone our sins. Because sin entered the world through man (Romans 5:12), it needed to be taken out the same way it came in- through another physical man (Christ). It was both a physical and spiritual work that God used to remedy humanity. If God solely worked through the Spirit, there would be no need for Jesus to ever become man. So there must be a balance. There are still laws of nature that exist that even God works within.

The balanced, integrated view.

A proper perspective is one of the first big steps to overcoming stigma in the Christian community. That begins with holistic understanding. God heals through the Spirit. God also uses practical wisdom. He uses people. He can use medicine. He is not limited to operating in one way.

When someone struggles with mental health and their mind isn’t operating the way it should, it is the result of being human in a fallen world. Just like our bodies get sick, our minds can get sick. That could be because of genetics, trauma, biochemical imbalances or any other physical ailments. It’s not always a faith issue, though spiritual formation should be present. We do always want to bridge the gap between where we are and conforming more into the likeness of Christ. There’s a balance of addressing the physical nature while building spiritual character.

We’ve all struggled with some form of mental health, it just might not have been as extreme.

The truth is, we’ve all been a victim of some level of mental dysfunction. It’s a part of our humanity. Because we’re flawed, we don’t always think straight. We’ve all let the lens of insecurity, trauma, hurt, sadness and worry cloud our judgment and distort our mind. No one has perfect thinking.

The difference with severe mental illness is that it’s more extreme than usual and requires more help. It can become a perpetual state of mind. So before you judge someone’s faith based off of their mental health, realize that at some level you’ve been there too and no one is immune. For others, there may be many other outside factors such as genetics and trauma that have contributed to the severity, which you’re blessed to never have experienced.

We need a safe space where people are allowed to be broken without their faith being defined by it.

A person can face mental illness without being defined by it. Many people who struggle with mental health are mothers, fathers, students, professionals, community leaders, and more.

More importantly, by not allowing the dynamic of understanding that people are flawed and yet that’s not all they are, we make generalized judgments and stigmatize the very people God still has a plan to use. As those who claim to be in Christ, God forbid we not embrace the hurting among us. Here I talk more about the need for authentic community and why it’s okay to not be okay.

God will get the glory.

The prayer is always that God would just remove these mental ailments once and for all. But sometimes that’s not always the case. We need to be understanding of that. Remember Paul prayed 3 times for his affliction to be removed.

“But [The Lord’s] answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

In my personal experience and throughout the Bible we see there are many reasons God may call us to endure instead:

  1. It gives us the humility and compassion to connect with the hurting around us.
  2. It builds our spiritual strength and dependence on God.
  3. It shows others that though we are broken and flawed God can use anyone and becomes a witness of His power.

So be encouraged because struggling with mental health doesn’t make you any less Christian, it just makes you human. Fight the good fight of faith. Surround yourself with the support that has a proper perspective. And know that what you’re facing is no surprise to God. He still has plan for your life. He always did.

Your sister,

Brittney Moses (2)

Resource: Christian Counseling & Therapy

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Hi friend, Im Brittney and Im so glad youre here! Im a Los Angeles-based author, content creator, podcast host, wife to Jason and mama to Austin. And Ive been blogging here for the past 10 years! As a graduate of psychology and research at UCLA, I help to reduce stigma and assist with helpful information at the intersection of mental health and faith, with some fun lifestyle tips along the way. So lets dive in!

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Leave a Comment


  1. It is true, that we have all had some form of mental illness, although perhaps mild, in our lives. Even in the Bible, I think of Jonah who, after God saved Ninevah, was depressed. Some sort of mental illness is part of being human. And, you are correct that there can be a combination of physical or spiritual factors.

    Posted 10.11.16 Reply
    • Amen Kathleen. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and read ❤️

      Posted 10.14.16 Reply
  2. I do have anxiety and low mood. I have discovered that it is a combination of spiritual and physical. I often felt like than a less than adequate christian because of it.

    Posted 10.12.16 Reply
    • yes yes absolutely. It is a physical and spiritual battle but God is greater and recovery is attainable. Feeling less adequate is real. I can identify with that. The good news is that God defines us, not our feelings. No matter how we feel, we are purposed and called and mental illness doesn’t cancel that ❤️

      Posted 10.14.16 Reply
  3. Tiffani Denham wrote:

    I just love your ministry. They were talking about this on the radio this morning and how important it is for the African American community has to be embrace this.

    Posted 10.12.16 Reply
  4. I have to that my husband played football in his early life, suffered quite a few concussions, suffers from depression off and off, even when things are were great. It used to frustrate me because I didn’t understand how a person, “believer” could be chronically depressed. It’s something we have to make ourselves understand.

    Posted 10.12.16 Reply
    • That’s hard, but you’re right, it’s something we have to bring ourselves around to understand if we’re going to have a helpful perspective. Thanks for dropping by Heather ❤️

      Posted 10.14.16 Reply
  5. Tara Jones Wohlford wrote:

    So many people have a hard time accepting this. Mental health is important and nothing to be ashamed of. God can make things happen and teach us lessons too.

    Posted 10.12.16 Reply
    • You’re right! I think the more we talk about it and bring some understanding to the issue of mental health, the more effectively we can counter these issue. God is still sovereign indeed. Thanks Tara ❤️

      Posted 10.14.16 Reply
  6. Elizabeth Marshall wrote:

    Such a great post. It is wonderful that there are individuals out there trying to shed a light on this subject that seems so taboo when really everyone just needs a bit of encouragement and care.

    Posted 10.12.16 Reply
  7. Hi Brittney,
    I know this is kind of long, but a Christian friend of mine had a mental breakdown and he’s wondering if it’s physical or spiritual. I’d like to share part of a message he sent me and get your thoughts…

    “I am still struggling with this decision whether to take the bipoloar meds. As a Christian, I have never had a high regard or trust for psychologists as most of them do not believe in God and they have a medical explanation for everything. Of course I believe however, that they may be right about a lot of things. But there is a very close connection between the mind and the spirit. I have always had a perception of psychologists as being apposed to spiritual things because they are so puffed up in their knowledge about the brain and how it functions. Another thing I have to consider in the professional medical opinion area is that I do have one doctor who cleared me of having bipolar and prescribed me with anxiety pills to be taken as needed. That doctor had observed me for a week while the psychologists heard my story for 10min and gave a diagnosis and prescription. So who do I believe knows best? The doctor or the psychologists? Here is what I know from a spiritual standpoint. This past summer I was about to get married. This is the devils favorite thing to destroy. I was not prepared spiritually as I was allowing sin- especially the sin of a mind altering drug (which could be considered as sorcery when used like I used it.) I was high on that drug every single day at the same time of planning a wedding, buying a house to flip, and wondering where I was going to take my new bride and how I would provide for her. I was such a fool! The Bible teaches us that the devil prowls around looking for whom he can devour. I made myself a perfect target. It says in 1 Peter 5 to be humble and solber minded among other warnings to keep us protected from the devils attacks. I became very prideful and definitely not solber this summer. I was prideful about my money, my accomplishment in Afghanistan and my fiancé. While I recognize that I had a season of showing the symptoms of a mental illness, I believe the Bible suggests that it might have been a spiritual battle. God may have apposed me because of my pride and allowed the enemy to swoop in and take me down to humble me. Being that this sickness could have been a spiritual battle, am I to believe that my cure is a physical remedy? Prescribed by someone who doesn’t believe in spiritual things? Or do I believe that what has happened was temporary and God has already healed me and in the process of restoring me yet again? I am now facing two doors. Either way I go I face some heavy risks. Behind door 1- I walk away from what happened this summer and believe it was a spiritual matter and that God can heal me. This would include continuing my path back to Afghanistan as planned next month. The risk here is that if the psychologists were right and I do need medicine the rest of my life, I could go into mania in Afghanistan, have to come home early from deployment which would sever any chance of deploying ever again and would have potential of damaging my brain further as well as worse consequences for my job. This risk although heavy is VERY unlikely due to my recent display of mental stability in Afghanistan. As well as 35 years of stability as long as there were no drugs involved. Door #2 I continue the medication prescribed and divulge all information of this past summer to the military doctors so that I can take the medication with me. This might delay my deployment or disqualify me all-together. I might be transferred to a different position that does not ever deploy again. The risk here is taking a medication that has long term side effects like memory loss, kidney and bone damage. I also would give up an opportunity to regain everything I lost financially during this past summer of great mistakes. This is a BIG decision and I have to make it soon. Will you please pray that God would direct me to the door He wants me to walk through? I think I’d like a third opinion from another medical professional and a little more time off the medication. I feel completely normal after almost two weeks of being off of them.”

    Can you let me know your thoughts?

    Posted 10.12.16 Reply
    • Hey Scott, I think your friend’s concerns are completely valid. Trying to figure out exactly how much of it is spiritual and how much is physical can be beyond our knowledge sometimes. It’s good to take care of both. It seems like he’s gotten 2 different opinions between the psychologist and the doctor. My recommendation would be that if he is completely torn, he get a third opinion. He should express all these same concerns to that clinician and they may be able to give other options, better advice according to his situation and what they know of his physiological assessment. Meds are tricky and many times just not fun at all. Sometimes the side effects can be hard but as you continue to push through either your body adjusts or the clinician will try a different level/type of medication that may be a better fit. I also believe that God can heal! But we should probably have evidence of that healing before we stop treatment by getting an okay from a doctor with a proper assessment. I know he says he feels fine but sometimes we can’t see signs in ourselves that others on the outside looking in can see (just because we’re going through our own motions)- asking his wife(?) to keep an eye on his emotional/behavioral state would be a good accountability system. I can’t ultimately make a conclusion for his life decision in this area but this would be my advice.

      Posted 10.14.16 Reply
      • Hi Brittney,
        Thank you for your thorough response. I’m going to send this to my friend to read. I appreciate your time!

        Posted 10.14.16 Reply
  8. This is spot on. I have struggled with this myself in the past. God is perfect and He alone can help direct our paths.

    Posted 10.12.16 Reply
    • I think facing this gives you compassion and understanding in these situations. You are so right. He is perfect. Thanks for taking the time to read ❤️

      Posted 10.14.16 Reply
  9. Kristi wrote:

    I agree, we do need a place where people can talk about it without being define by it!

    Posted 10.12.16 Reply
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