Pastors Can’t Treat Depression! Mental Health Professionals Do

Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it – Tori Amos

Expectations on pastors can be unrealistic. And it is most chronic in Nigeria where “Christians” outsource all their responsibilities to God. There is no respite for these physical representatives of the divine in our incurably religious society.

Hark back to pre-colonial era and you will realise that Nigerians just lazily substituted pastors with Ogun (god of iron), Amadioha (god of thunder), and Osanyin (god of medicine) as their intercessors before the supreme being.

Yes! Pastors are largely the new intermediaries! They were handed over to us by our forebearers who dread the idea of approaching the supreme being directly. So, once they have a problem or things gets confusing, they turn to pastors for solutions.

Pastors are the new gods.

Growing up, we all indirectly learned that it was the pastor that we should open up to if we must solve life’s nagging problems. No one ever said it directly but it was always inferred that the pastor can solve almost any problem. And the list is endless:

  • Substance abuse? Talk to the pastor
  • Personal problems? Talk to the pastor
  • Marital conflict? Talk to the pastor
  • Family problems? Talk to the pastor
  • Depressed and anxious? Talk to the pastor

In reality, can the pastor have all the answers to drugs, marital, family and mental health woes? Most unlikely. The pastor doesn’t have all the answers! We have to learn not to go to pastors for help with all issues because they do not have all the answers.

It is time we start going to the right people that can solve specific problems. Take for instance, mental illness? It is unlikely to find help with a pastor except (s)he is a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. It will take going to the right mental health professionals, right diagnosis and using the right medications, and sticking with treatment over time to resolve.

We should start asking the right professionals for help in order to find solutions to our problems. It’s time we stop expecting pastors to wish our personal, drug, marital and mental health woes away through prayers and the scripture. Counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists can help us heal fast through therapy because they are more equipped than most pastors who are not professionally trained to deal diseases of the mind.

Take your depression, anxiety, mania, and issues to the right people to move from a broken mess to a healthy and whole person.

Let’s start using the resources in our community, the professionals who are trained to help. Pastors can provide necessary advice, counsel and guidance but should not replace qualified professionals.

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