As part of that increased awareness, The World Health Organization reports that mental disorders are the No. 1 source of medical disability for people age 15–44 in the United States and Canada. And a manual used by psychiatrists and psychologists for diagnosis and treatment is being updated now, with a number of newly conceived disorders being proposed for possible addition to the current volume’s 357 types of disorders.
Healthy debate is taking place among mental health professionals about the proposed new inclusions, and we can certainly expect to see progress in this field. Some experts maintain that detailed identification of possible symptoms can lead to early diagnosis and treatment, and that legitimizing illnesses makes it easier to get funding for research and treatment. Others voice concern that further additions to “psychiatry’s Bible” may contribute to a growing trend whereby society is becoming overdiagnosed and overmedicated.
Of course, there is the Holy Bible, which has helped many people find a spiritual basis for mental health, grounded in the understanding that God, infinite divine Mind, is the underlying intelligence of all creation. The Bible conveys that since God is our Creator, He is the true source of all good thoughts. Since God is the only Mind, these thoughts have to be good, just as He is. One psalm states, “The counsel of the Lord stands for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations” (33:11, American King James Version).
Since God is all-harmonious, it’s only logical that the mental state that God imparts to us is serene and constructive, as highlighted in this Bible passage: “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7). To me, Jesus demonstrated a deep understanding of this spiritual foundation for mental health when he healed a mentally ill man.
This statement of spiritual reality can be an anchor at times when one feels mentally beset by fear, despair, confusion, or any other destructive mental influence. If God hasn’t given us a “spirit of fear,” it follows that we don’t need to accept such feelings as spiritual realities. Even if it isn’t easy at first to resist these influences, persistence will open the way to progress.
Several years ago, when searching for a new career where I could help people with mental and emotional healing, I studied counseling and then worked in various therapeutic settings. As my ongoing study of Christian Science helped me understand the spiritual basis of mental wellbeing, I increasingly found that the most effective way to help my clients free themselves from mental health problems and past trauma was to consistently identify these individuals in my own thought as the spiritual image and likeness of God, divine Mind. I saw them as naturally reflecting qualities such as clarity, wisdom, insight, serenity, and balance.
Rather than thinking that their mental health depended on a physical brain or that they could be wrongly influenced by an unfortunate family history, I prayed for my view of them to be pure; I prayed to see them as God sees them – to acknowledge their divine origin and nature. I found that a spiritual approach to healing was so promising that I eventually moved on to a new career devoted solely to prayer-based healing.
In my own personal search for recovery from childhood trauma and a major burnout, I gradually found complete healing and a new sense of purpose through daily prayer that affirmed my spiritual identity as the reflection of divine Mind, Life, and Love.
We can rejoice with the Psalmist’s paean to God: “Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart” (119:111, English Standard Version). Our prayers for those seeking better mental health can be buoyed with confidence that mental wholeness is every person’s spiritual inheritance as the very expression of the one infinite Mind, God.