Does God care about my mental health?
May is Mental Health Month and today we're looking at mental health through the lens of faith with therapist Jacqueline Ramos, LPC.
Our mental health affects our relationships, work and our physical health. I often think about mental health from a biblical perspective and wonder how I can honor God with my mental health.
Many of my clients and I have been a part of a culture that separates mental health and faith – implying that my mental health was something that I needed to take to a mental health professional, not to God. In my journey as a therapist, I’m passionate about merging the two.
In Matthew 22:37, Jesus says, "Love the Lord with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind."
I have worked with clients who identify with the Christian faith, but have often found that their faith and mental health do not sit at the same table, leading them to question – does God care about how I am feeling, my depression or anxiety? Is it okay to take anxiety medication? Is my depression due to a lack of faith?
I find solace in going directly to God. This passage in Matthew teaches that my thoughts and the state of my mental health matter to God. He asks me to love him with all of my mind. He is interested in my thoughts, emotions, and ideas. The question that is stirring is how? How does one love God with our mind?
Paul writes in Romans 12:2, "...be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Renewing our minds is the way to transformation; it's a way that we love God with our minds.
In counseling, there is a form of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In CBT there is a diagram called the cognitive triangle that depicts the connection between our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. We have the ability to change our behavior by identifying our emotions and challenging the thoughts that lead us to those emotions. This is what I gather to be the idea that Paul is explaining in Romans when he tells us to renew our minds. Part of renewing our minds is challenging our thoughts, confronting our emotions, transforming our actions.
Throughout God’s Word we see God caring for people – their whole being specifically. In 1 Kings, when Elijah is fleeing for his life he finds himself under a tree, wishing to die (1 Kings 19:4). God cares for Elijah giving him food to eat and time to sleep – meeting his physical needs first before then talking to Elijah about his calling. Elijah, like many of my clients, learned to take their emotions to God because he cares for their whole self. It’s okay to bring God our questions, our hurts and our struggles.
Matthew Sleeth, MD, shared in a podcast the importance of doing a “systems check” known as H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). This is helpful with little ones and adults. When you are in a stressed state, ask yourself - am I hungry, angry, lonely (or afraid of something), or tired? Identify what’s going on and seek the appropriate resources. This can be finding a good therapist, calling a friend, seeking help from a physician for medication or beginning some healthy rhythms.
I find encouragement from Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Loving God with our minds can be different for everyone. It's not always easy changing our minds to think about something else or challenging our thoughts. One of the ways that God shows us that he cares for our mental health is by providing us with the things we need - a great therapist, access to medication, time with Him, a good support system, or all of the above. Loving God with our minds can mean utilizing some of these things he provides.
My hope is that however you find it possible, you know you have a God who is near, who cares and is ready to comfort you. May we be a people who love God with our minds by caring for our whole self, including our mental health.
About Jacqueline Ramos, Licensed Professional Counselor
Jacqueline is a bilingual therapist who sees clients at our Central Office and our office at Park Cities Baptist Church.
Jacqueline especially enjoys working with adolescents, college-aged and young adults. Her areas of focus include:
- Depression, anxiety, suicidal thought
- Faith and spirituality
- Guilt and shame
- Identity and self-image
- Women's issues, young women
We're here for you
The Center offers counseling and assessments for children, teens, couples, individuals, and families. The Center is in-network with most major insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid for counseling services.
To schedule an appointment with any of The Center's therapists call 214-526-4525 or go to TEAM to learn more.