As we close out 2010, I wanted to relay a statistic I heard recently that said that 41% of AMERICANS were mentally ill. In America, we are creeping up on almost HALF of all Americans have some type of so-called “mental illness.” In other words, 41% of Americans possess a DSM-IV DIAGNOSIS based upon observable (or self-reported) behaviors/thoughts and many of those are “treating their symptoms” with a medication that is NOT guaranteed to work and may have many serious side effects.

My thoughts:
1) I think America is one of the few countries with the LEISURE TIME and WEALTH to be “mentally ill.” Most third world countries and their citizens do not have the time to focus on themselves which OFTEN causes mental illness. The people in these countries have to focus on working for their families just to survive the harsh conditions of life. In America, we have time and wealth to be mentally ill b/c it lends itself to self-absorption.

2) This 41% is a number that is only going to INCREASE in our country.

3) How much does sin and focusing upon one’s self-centered desires contribute to mental illness versus how much of mental illness is physically based (like a chemical imbalance)? I would say that when we get to heaven, if the Lord reveals the truthful answer to this question, we will all be surprised at how mental illness is really caused by living in unrepentant sin by being so extremely self-focused that one’s physical body begins to manifest these symptoms. There is a physical relationship between one’s sin and the body. Look at how Nebuchadnezzar’s body responded to his sin (Daniel 4:28-33) and David whose health suffered because of his sin (Psalm 38:3).

4) I am saddened and compassionate for this 41% of people. At times in my life, I’m sure I would have qualified as one of them in certain ways. I’m glad to not be struggling with it anymore by the grace of God.

5) Terminology is important and when we call something that is blatantly SINFUL as “MENTALLY ILL,” then the Bible is no longer useful to people who are looking for answers to “mental illness” which is not in the Bible. However, when we translate the observable behaviors/thoughts into biblical terminology, then we can utilize the GREATEST resource ever given to mankind: the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

While some mental problems are caused by physical factors, the majority of them often are not. The cause can often be SIN which leads to physical problems.

Sadly, even if ALL “mental illness” were caused by physical problems (and they are NOT!), but even if they were, the medications and secular counseling available is NOT working. It is woefully inadequate to address the matters of the heart that must be changed by the power of Christ. Is your hope in the world’s supposed remedies or in Christ as the remedy Who transforms the heart (Rom. 12:2)?

-Mark (let’s pray for this 41% of people to either be saved or sanctified by Christ)