Mental Illness and the Christian Response

A Real Battle Worth Discussing

Mental illness is an uncomfortable topic among Christians, who often misunderstand it or ascribe its cause to demonic influence. In fact, a study by LifeWay Research shows that almost half of evangelical Christians believe mental illness can be “cured” through prayer and Bible study. But what does the Bible itself say about mental illness?

The Bible, which takes an unfiltered approach to real life , is not silent on mental illness. Nebuchadnezzar and Saul both suffered from mental illness ((Dan 4:30-37; 1 Sam 7:1-31:13), and it can be argued that David, Jacob and Elijah himself had bouts of depression.

Matthew 4:24 depicts one account of Jesus healing someone of mental illness.

And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought to him all sick people that were taken with diverse diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. (AKJV)

Physical illness sometimes has a spiritual component (1 Cor 11:30; John 11:4), so it’s not unreasonable to say mental illness sometimes can as well. But the key word here is “illness.” Throughout Scripture, we see various medical treatments prescribed for illnesses. For instance, Isaiah prescribed a poultice of figs for King Hezekiah’s boil (2 Kings 20:7), and Paul advised Timothy to drink wine to relieve his upset stomach (1 Timothy 5:23). God can and does use medicine to relieve illness, even mental illness.

It is interesting to note that God may hold people accountable for their actions despite mental illness. Though insane, Saul lost the kingdom to David because of his reckless disregard for God’s law (1 Samuel 15).

A grace-filled approach to mental illness:

  1. Don’t be ashamed about needing help. The stigma associated with mental illness is an enemy of recovery.
  2. Recognize mental illness, like physiological illnesses, can be treated.
  3. Allow regular counseling sessions to be part of your treatment plan. Seek the help of a Christian psychiatrist or counselor if possible.
  4. Surround yourself with a solid Christian support system, and ask those in your circle to share honest observations about how you’re doing.
  5. Be patient with yourself. Just because you’re medicated or getting counseling doesn’t guarantee an immediate turnaround.
  6. Recognize your medication may need to be adjusted in the course of your treatment. Just like with physical illness, you may experience setbacks in your progress.
  7. Maintaining healthy routines often is helpful in combatting mental illness. Daily Bible reading and prayer should be part of your routine.
  8. Encourage your loved ones to seek support from fellow Christians who have walked their path.
  9. Most important, commit your struggles to the Lord, who will not forsake or abandon you in your greatest time of need.

Here are some Scriptures that may offer comfort to people suffering from mental illness and the people who care for them.

Scriptures for those suffering:

  • Philippians 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
  • Proverbs 15:13 – A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.
  • Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Scriptures for those who care for them:

  • Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times.
  • Romans 12:15 – Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
  • Galatians 6:2 – Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
  • Matthew 9:13 – But go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

 Read More from Cheri Henderson on her blog,

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Cheri Henderson is a Christ-follower and freelance writer with a passion for helping other believers embrace the full and abundant, victorious, joy-filled life God intends them to have. The product of a broken and dysfunctional home life, Cheri lost her mother and sister to suicide six months to the day of each other nearly 30 years ago. Using the Bible and the Holy Spirit as her guides, she emerged from her experiences as a wife and mother committed to breaking the chains of sin and addiction in her family tree.A passionate evangelist, discipler and teacher, Cheri has done short-term missions in the United States as well as internationally. Through her blog,, she shares her passion for living sold-out, surrendered lives in Christ. One of Cheri’s favorite verses is Hebrews 7:25, which reads, “Consequently, He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” In her free time, Cheri remains in perpetual motion as a musician, crafter, grandmother, exercise enthusiast and serious home cook.

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5 replies
  1. Dan McDevitt
    Dan McDevitt says:

    My family life has been filled with mental illness. The mind is a very fragile thing. Yes, God has delivered me from mental illness at times. I also recently started taking a daily pill to help with anxiety. I find that when I pray and study scripture my mind is more clear and calm.

    Serious mental illness – suicide is very hard for me to deal with because my sister has made many attempts. She has done very well considering over the years. The thing I do know is that there is no shame in mental illness. Getting help and taking the medicine is important to your mental health. Just like other sickness there is no real ultimate total forever cure.

    God can and will help you with mental illness. Go to him in prayer and yes – keep evil thoughts away.

    • Tory Connolly
      Tory Connolly says:

      Cheri, thank you for your wonderful, insightful article and some of the powerful scriptures you’ve listed here. This is beautiful confirmation. God bless you! In fact I listed the Philippians “be anxious for nothing” scripture on one of my sites today.

      Dan, my heart goes out to you and your family members and their struggle and your bout with mental illness. I know firsthand how you must feel. However I disagree as you put it that “there is no real, ultimate, total forever cure.” There is! It’s in the power of Jesus and it’s in the Holy Bible and I’m living proof with a ministry of healing. Through Dr. Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, I overcame a diagnosis of manic depression/bipolar illness and 22 times in mental hospitals. I have been medication-free since 1998.

      I agree that sometimes medication is needed initially, to stabilize the individual. However, I believe first and foremost that mental illness is a SPIRITUAL dis-ease and needs a SPIRITUAL cure. Who knows us better than our Creator God? Through prayer and fasting and using other Biblical tools, I was restored. A restoration He wants for many suffering souls to set them free. Anyone reading this, please feel free to contact me. People are getting healed! Jesus said that yes, what He did for me is a healing miracle, but it is a miracle that should be happening. Everyday.

  2. Russell E. Rojas, Jr.
    Russell E. Rojas, Jr. says:

    Hi; I am a believer in Christ. I am 63, and came to faith in Him about 30 years ago. I was in a very bad marriage, and also in the grip of terrible depression. Now, I had wrestled with depression all of my life, but the stress I was under really made it much worse. and I wound up in the hospital. For the first time in my life, I was put on anti-depressant medication, and I continue taking it to this day; I consider it a Godsend! Some things must be said about that illness, and its treatment. The medication is NOT any kind of “dope/sedative/feel-good drug”. It works to raise the neurotransmitter(N.T.) levels of the brain, which are way too low, in the case of clinical depression. The patient will be sleepy for the first week or so, but is how the medicine corrects the N.T. levels of the brain. Yes, the doctor may prescribe a mood-elevating drug, such as Xanax along with the anti-depressant, but this secondary drug is potentially addictive , and is to be used ONLY until the primary medication begins to work. ( And anti-depressants must NOT be given to anyone under 25, except maybe in extreme , closely-watched cases, as the brain is not fully developed until then).*** Depression of an incapacitating, clinical magnitude is often hereditary, and should not be confused with normal “blues”, which are part of normal emotions. Nor should a person needing the medication, sometimes life-long in duration, be viewed as “weak.” Such a person is no “weaker” than a diabetic “depending ” on his insulin. *** My “philistine” marriage is long over, my ex-wife is into what can only be called paganism, and I await the providence of God to send me a mate, should He deem it proper. sincerely, Russell


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