Pastor: Why Stigmatizing Depression as a 'White People Problem' Causes So Much Damage in the Church

Pastor Adrian Crawford (Facebook / Engage Church)

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There's long been a stigma attached to mental illness in the church, but did you know that historically, depression and suicide were dubbed "white people problems" in African American communities? Though it made his battle with depression that much harder, that reality didn't stop God from working through Pastor Adrian Crawford to help him overcome his struggles and raise awareness about mental health in his church.

"Growing up, there really was a stigma," Crawford says. "... I'm the descendant of a great-great grandfather [who] was a slave himself and a lot of things with African Americans and in our country—it was really [horrible]. And so it was the fact that, man, there was just the idea of surviving, you know.

"In the black community, we're starting to see the trauma of what life has taught. And so now it's actually becoming a thing, you're starting to see some mental health facilities and things popping up more in African American communities. You're starting to see this being talked more about among black leaders. ... But growing up, it was a heavy stigma. So I credit my parents; they took me to a psychiatrist when I was younger, they started noticing some things."

One way mental illness has been avoided in sermons preached from the pulpit is by overlooking the emotions behind Bible stories, Crawford says on the "Charisma News" podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network. There are plenty of examples in the Bible about talking through and regulating our emotions.

"I think many times when we preach the Bible, we don't preach it from a standpoint of diving into the story to realize the human emotion that was behind it," Crawford says. "Many times we'll pull out the theological things that are there, which we should as faithful Bible teachers, but what we don't do is get into the emotions and the feelings that were happening.

"Cain killed his brother because he felt some type of way. I mean, God shows up to Cain and says, 'Why are you dejected? Why are you angry?' ... God gives us a formula of how you actually work through emotional health right there."

To listen to more about how Crawford is preaching about emotional health in his church, click here.

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