The Stigma Around Mental Illness by Christianity | Jack von Vaughn

Hey! Jack von Vaughn here, and Happy Holidays
to you all ! just came back from a short break from doing YouTube, that’s all. While
I did miss some trending topics that I would like to talk about on my channel
during my break, I do think that having that short break is still worthwhile. Last December 9 (yeah I know it’s been a long time), actor Mico Palanca has been found dead. Frankly, this is the first time I’ve
heard of this guy; haven’t watched any of the series that he’s been into, or any of
the movies that he’s been into. No, none of that. I know this is old news but I
want to talk about him because he died by suicide, and Filipinos being Filipinos, a lot of these
commenters have invoked their god, their holy book, and/or how it
is the temptation of ~SaTaN~ to have depression or to work with suicidal
crises. Let’s read some of these comments. …and the cover of the book on the
picture is the Holy Bible, obviously. and then the picture contains the said ten verses that will supposedly help you during those times So much Christian love right on those comments, huh? Going back, this isn’t to show
that people who invoke their god in situations like these are insensitive pricks. Unfortunately, a lot of them are.
So why is this the case? Why is mental health still a taboo issue, even though one in four people are affected by mental illness according to the World Health Organization?
Perhaps, to answer the question, mental illness is seen by some as a sign of
weakness. Hearing responses like: or… …downgrades mental illnesses
from the legitimate clinical condition that it is to a personal flaw
or a character weakness and downgrades the person to something who is, well, crazy! This is very common among Filipinos, unfortunately. Others may relate one’s mental illness to their
own religion and god, with responses like: and my personal favorite: Wow… What the fu– A study from 2015, conducted
by Wesselman ED at AU entitled, “Religious Beliefs About Mental Illness
Influence Social Support Preferences,” have their Christian participants
indicate the denominational affiliation and their religious beliefs
regarding mental illness. They were then asked two things: 1) to imagine a situation where
a friend of theirs has depression, and 2) to indicate their willingness to
provide secular or spiritual social support. Take note that by secular support, they mean
something like recommending medication, while by spiritual social support, they mean
something like recommending prayer. The researchers found out that
Evangelical Christians, in general, endorsed more beliefs that mental illnesses
have spiritual causes or treatments than mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic
Christians, and the Evangelical Christians endorsed more preference for giving spiritual
social support than Roman Catholic Christians. That is not to say however that we can generalize
Christians nowadays for this kind of outdated beliefs and potentially
insensitive behavior. We should take note that some Christian churches
or some religious Christian individuals, not only recognize the existence of mental illnesses but are also organizing
conferences regarding mental illness. to propagate more awareness towards mental
illness, and if that’s a case then it’s great! But that is where all my praise for them ends.
Suicide, where one takes their own life most often as a result of depression or other mental illness, is still taught by most churches as sinful. despite not being explicitly
forbidden in the Bible. Take this view by the Catholic Church,
where they consider suicide to be a mortal sin, being against the will of their God
and forbidden by the fifth commandment, even though it says, “Thou shalt not murder, not, “Thou shalt not commit suicide.” They, however, have made a more nuanced view regarding the matter, saying that grave psychological disturbances,
anguish or grave fear of hardship, suffering or torture can diminish the responsibility
of the one committing suicide. Take note of the word “diminish,” because that implies that the person who had the suicide death, even though they were heavily burdened
with their thoughts during the act, would still be held responsible
for it, even though partly. Honestly, even state laws would
be more reasonable than this. Anyway, a personal story of sorts: back during my second year in college
(yes, I attended a Catholic school then) we had what is usually called in the Catholic
Church a “recollection,” which is basically “a personal encounter with God often characterized
by meditation, silence, reflection, and prayer.” And in the Philippines, my country,
it’s usually done in a single day. Long story short, we had a confessional
portion with the priest then, and during my turn in the confession, I don’t remember
what the problems I was talking about back then, but I asked him, “What if I just end at all?” even though I forgot the
problems, whatever they may be, I have that I had back then. One thing I cannot
forget though was the priest’s response, or rather, the gist of it. He told me not
to commit suicide, and his first reason? Because it is a grave sin to do so. because I’ll go to hell if I do so. Back then, I have thought nothing
much about that reply but now? I honestly find [that] reply a little lacking in the empathy department. Maybe because his reasons are more inclined on
the idea of [an] afterlife than the present life, but… yeah. And even outside Catholicism, if you
search “what does Christianity think of suicide,” the search results do not get that pleasant. Well, we do not have the luxury of time
to discuss every single reason here, other churches views regarding suicide are similar in the way that they stated as equivalent to
murder, as an attack to their god’s image, as a rejection of their god’s gift of life,
and among others, as a sin. Despite the fact that the person who
died of suicide may not be on what they would call “the right
mind” during the said act, regardless of [the] cause of a person suicide,
whether it may be due to mental illness, terminal sickness, unfortunate
circumstances in one’s life, condemning them, like how some of the commenters’ comments that are mentioned earlier, will only keep mental health issues
a taboo one and this does not help and will not help the situations
of people with mental illnesses. If the deceased succumbed, for instance,
to a terminal disease like cancer, we would simply express our condolences to them. It shouldn’t be much different to
people who succumbed to suicide. A little empathy for them goes a long way, you know.


  1. How does religion (whether your former one or the one dominant in your country) affect issues regarding mental health in your country? Also, if you have/had mental issues, how does/did religion affect your condition?

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