Bridging the gap between the church and mental illness


Tribune Features Writer

WITH greater attention given to mental health issues in recent times, the church is also coming to the forefront in encouraging followers not to view mental disorders as conditions caused by "demonic forces" that only non-believers are susceptible to.

Some in the church are of the belief that an active Christian cannot have psychological ailments because their personal relationship with Christ grants them freedom from being mentally oppressed.

However, church leaders are seeking to change the way mental illness is viewed by their congregations.

Once such church is Calvary Deliverance which under the leadership of Bishop James & Elder Queenie Newry will host its first Mental Health Forum and Deliverance Service on October 23, beginning 7pm.

The ministry seeks to break the stigma associated with mental health illness and empower individuals with the necessary information on how to cope with stresses that may lead to depression and other mental health illness.

The forum and service will provide education from a professional perspective while the deliverance service will inspire attendees by the Holy Spirit of God to be freed of spiritual attacks by the enemy of our souls.

"The event seeks to sensitise the public to the fact that there are healthy professional and spiritual help available. These professionals will assist persons in recognising symptoms that can lead to mental illness, provide information on how to obtain help and also expound on the spiritual aspect and the importance of having a relationship with God as he is the ultimate difference maker," said, Merlande Barrett of Calvary Deliverance.

Guest speakers at the event will include Dr Helen Rolle, a distinguished Psychologist of The Family Group with Dr David Allen and Apostle David Butler of World Outreach Ministries International.

"While it is understood that this forum is needed to assist in addressing the mental state of persons in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the church also acknowledges that individuals face daily struggles that require attention such as failed marriages and relationships, loss of a love one, job turmoil, substance abuse and unplanned pregnancies just to name a few.

"The Bahamas is a nation built with people of substance and no longer will your pillow dry your eyes. We want people to stand up, be counted and partner with Calvary as we bring awareness to this very pertinent topic. As a nation we will regroup and recoup together for we are over-comers through Christ Jesus," she said.

The message the church hopes resonates with congregants and those from the community is that mental illness does not discriminate in any way, shape, form or fashion. It's an issue that both believers and non-believers are faced with.

Also taking the charge in addressing the matter from the pulpit is Pastor Mario Moxey of Bahamas Harvest Church who recently began a new sermon series on "Breaking The Stigma: "Our Mental Health Matters".

In his invitation extended to the general public through the organisation's Facebook page, Pastor Moxey highlighted that for too long mental illness has been swept under the rug. And even when it is addressed it is done so lightheartedly.

"We as a society, even though we may have given serious thought to the mental health of those around us, we have not been mobilised to assist and as a result, we have made it difficult for so many of our brothers and sisters to receive the care and attention they need to allow them to thrive in life.

"As a congregation, I would like to see Bahamas Harvest Church move with Christ-like compassion to help eradicate the stigma associated with mental conditions and love those who need the warm embrace that The Harvest is known for," he said.

Pastor Moxey's sermon series will continue this and every Sunday for the remainder of October.