“A Shrink and a Pastor Walk Into a Bar”: A Church’s Conversation on Mental Health

5 Jul

13442682_10206164233134420_6170693830157814465_oThroughout the month of June, one Dallas church was spending each Monday evening having important conversations in a local bar. The annual event, Theology Live, featured a challenging topic this year: God and our bodies, including discussions on infertility and adoption, the meaning of life, mental health, and death.

While each of those topics need to be talked about more, including in the church, let’s take a particular look at this church’s discussion of mental health — a topic that men, perhaps even more so than women, struggle to talk about openly.

Click HERE to listen to full audio of the talk “A Shrink and a Pastor Walk Into a Bar” or full audio of the Q&A session.

A few practical takeaways from the Q&A session:

Q: How do I support a family member who struggles with an addiction or other behavioral health issue?

Dr. Lee Spencer, psychiatrist: “To make meaningful change, they have to want to change a little bit. They’ve gotta at least see some consequences that are outweighing the benefits of [their behavior].” “With family members, pointing them in ways, in directions of people that can help is often the most important piece. But to get there, you gotta have them at least willing to accept the fact that what they’re doing is not in their best interest.”

Q: “What’s the difference between empathy, sympathy, and compassion?”

Ryan Waller, pastor: Sympathy says, “I’m sorry you’re experiencing that.” Empathy says “I’m gonna put myself in your shoes and try to see the world as you see it.” Compassion says “I’m gonna feel sympathetic, feel empathetic, and do something about it. And compassion is what I feel like Christianity calls us to do.”

Closing remarks: “The reason we wanted to talk about this is to remind everyone that there’s deep, deep hope. If  you are anxious or you are depressed I can say to you, as an individual, that I’m a person who has experienced some of that and has also experienced an incredible growth and healing. I think through the power of Jesus Christ there’s nothing that can’t be redeemed. So, I hope you feel hopeful. I hope you feel filled with life. And I thank you for being here.”   

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