Let’s talk about faith and mental health. We’re going out on a limb here but don’t worry, we’re keeping it eccumenical. Yes it’s taboo to talk about faith in many circles, but with the world a mess, we might benefit from a little higher love.
Here’s the thing: faith is belief in something or someone greater than yourself. When we put self aside (not down, but aside) we find burdens lighten and paths reveal themselves.
More Than Me
As a person, when you’re hungry, you seek food for yourself. With nothing in the way, you’re going to get something to eat. What might change your motive? Well, as a parent, you might put your kids first and make sure they have food to eat as well. If you’re doing a job, you might put your hunger aside until a certain task is complete. You still feed yourself, but it’s not all about you in the moment. Faith brings a “more than me” perspective.
Faith is like this. When you hold a belief strongly, you may still experience pain, sadness, tiredness, but you endure with a perspective on something more, something higher. You persist longer. It feels worth it.
Not everyone feels this way, and that’s okay. Faith is and must be a free will offering, otherwise we’re just robots and it doesn’t work at all.
Let’s put this in perspective with mental health. Simon Dein wrote in 2018 about studies performed to evaluate the effectiveness of spirituality on mental health. He says, “For many people, religion is not only important in their lives but the central aspect of coping with life stresses.” He goes on to say, “Results indicate that those who are more religious generally fare better in terms of mental health. The presence of religious faith is associated with greater hope, increased sense of meaning in life, higher self-esteem, optimism and life satisfaction.”
Further, the National Alliance on Mental Illness posted in 2016, “Religion gives people something to believe in, provides a sense of structure and typically offers a group of people to connect with over similar beliefs. These facets can have a large positive impact on mental health…” The post also listed some benefits to faith-based practices such as social connection, sense of belonging, structure and regularity, ability to cope with life situations, and emotional guidance (forgiveness, gratitude, etc.)
The Coach Perspective
Coaches are here to help you discover your best self. While we come from all walks of life and beliefs, a fair few of us are also faithful. Here’s what one of our coaches has to say about her faith and mental health:
“Placing my faith in the solid foundation and truth of God allows me to look at difficult circumstances from a Kingdom perspective versus a worldly perspective. Every difficult thing I’ve been through I have been able to use for good and God’s glory. I’ve learned that my circumstances don’t define me and, even in hard times, I don’t have to be swallowed up by heavy emotions and trauma.
“As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve come to understand Paul’s words of ‘boast in my weakness.’ In my most difficult times, I’ve received Holy Spirit power and I’ve experienced standing on the solid ground of God’s love and truth when everything around me seems to be shaking. It is hard to actually put into words really, but I can honestly say if I didn’t have my faith and my identity firmly planted in who God is and who I am in Him, I would not be alive today.”Brandie, FRC Coach
Faith Over Fear
No matter what your beliefs, most mental health professionals will agree that those with a positive faith-base tend to heal better and faster than those without. Stay positive, think beyond yourself, realize your value, and stay open to what lies ahead. When you put faith over fear, you can move mountains.