It is a shame that so many religious groups treat mental illness like it’s a demonic posession or something “you can pray away”. In light of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) there have been “health sharing ministry plans” that do not meet the legal definition of insurance plans, but do offer payment methods to help ease the financial burden of healthcare costs within the USA. However, many of these health sharing ministry plans (majority if not all are developed by different Christain churches), do not offer mental health care services. Under the ACA, all health insurances must off some kind of mental health service with their plans, however since health sharing ministry plans slip through the loophole, they do not have to offer these types of preventative services.
Mental health care services in America are a luxury. Testing for mental illnesses alone can cost anywhere between $200–800+, and that is with insurance. Contionual care with mental health services can be expensive as well, depending on what exactly is done (counseling 1–3 times a month, medication refills every 1–3 months, etc.). There are some medication that easily cost $900 per month, while people with insurance might get lucky and only have to spend $50–100 per month on these expensive medication, how are the uninsured supposed to get the medicine they need to function?
If a person were to break a bone from a sporting accident, insurance would cover the treatment no questions asked. Why is mental health care any different? To the person who needs their anti-anxiety medication just to go outside and function. To the person who needs their mood stabilizer medication so they won’t break down sobbing in the middle of work. To the person who needs their anti psychotic medication to ease their symptoms of schizophrenia, to make the symptoms bearable throughout the day.
Mental illness is the result of multiple issues going on. A part of the issues is the fact that the brain chemistry is abnormal. Medication is needed to help restore the brain chemistry back to its “normal” state. If a mother of a child would give TUMS to a child to ease their stomach pains, why is taking an anti-depressant suddenly “dirty, evil chemicals”? As someone who loves biology and is passionate about it, the cold hard truth is that you can break down anything in this world to sound like “big scary science chemical names”.
The fact that these health sharing ministry plans have the attitude of “you can pray away the mental illness” or “it’s a demonic posession” is fundamentally wrong and flat out dangerous. It pushes the myth that “if you just pray to God, you can beat your mental illness”. For people with any kind of severe mental illness, this is a death sentence. Medication is needed to help get symptoms under control. Counseling is extremely beneficial in getting advice on how to live your life in the most healthy and efficient way possible.