In our latest series of interviews, we caught up with mental health advocate, Brittney Moses. We did this for a very good reason!
Did you know that according to The Office of Women’s Health more than 1 in 5 American women experienced a mental health condition in the past year? This is something that believe it or not is not talked about enough in the church. Brittney has opened the conversation up through her articles on the Huffington Post, churches, and the in the Southern California community. Most recently she facilitated recovery support groups with the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI).
Brittney was born and raised in Los Angeles and currenly lives in California with her 9-year-old son Austin. Over the past few years she went back to school to study Clinical Psyhchology while working from home. She tells us that is has been her greatest passion! It’s not a path that she foresaw hersulf going down but God obviously had other plans.
Let’s dive in to our conversation with Brittney!
MVW: Why are you so passionate about helping people conquer mental illness?
Brittney: I would say that there are two sides that really woke me up to the need of preparing people with the tools to combat mental illness. First, it was like yesterday that I remember having some of my deepest battles with anxiety and depression. I remember having anxiety attacks so bad that I couldn’t eat or sleep and was barely functioning after a number of devastating events. I remember experiencing depression at the physical level to where I couldn’t move or face the day and became physically sick. And when you’re in it, the battle is much bigger than yourself. Yes, you need the tools but you need major support and understanding of how to get unstuck one day at a time.
Second, I’ve been serving in ministry and the church for some years now and what I’ve seen time and time again are people who come to Christ but are still prisoners of their mind- to their traumas, their hurts, their habits, their hang ups. People who were born-again spiritually but still bound by the human experience.
If we’re going to live out and show up to the call God has on our lives, then we need to renew our minds too. We need to start seeing ourselves correctly, to see those around us correctly, to see God correctly- the upward, inward, outward relationships that propels us forward. Seeing people through to their fullest potential has always been a passion of mine.
Lastly, the topic of mental illness has just been a taboo subject in the church for too long. We’ve been too quick to assume that someone is not having enough faith or we throw people away when we brush them off simply telling them to pray more. There are multiple factors at work biologically, psychologically, genetically, environmentally and we need to develop a more holistic perspective, so we can actually help people receive the full healing that they need.
MVW: If someone is reading this right now, what are a few things that they need to know about how their faith in Christ can fight their battle for mental wellness?
Brittney: I always say you’ll have good days and you’ll have bad days but you’ll never have a day without Christ. And that is so comforting to me- that we have this faithful and consistent hope regardless of how we feel. Your current battle is no surprise to God and He is fully prepared to see you through. I think of the scripture in Jude 1:5 speaking on the Israelites deliverance from Egypt stating, “They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them.” And we too forget, that He has delivered you once before. He saw you through what felt impossible before. He has shown you that His strength will keep you and His faithfulness has not changed. This is the hope that we get to have. A hope that transcends the current world and state that we are living in. When we have nothing else to hold onto we can hold onto Him. When we want to run away, we can run to Him. This is our great escape and where our moment to moment victory comes from.
MVW: Do you think mental wellness is talked about enough in the church? If not, why?
Brittney: The honest answer would be that I don’t know exactly how much churches are talking about it or not. Based on my personal experience of the churches and pastors I’ve been in contact with, there’s not enough of a conversation happening about mental health and they’d like to be more proactive about it. LifeWay’s research team did do a study called “Study of Acute Mental Illness and Christian Faith.” In surveying about 1000 people it was reported that 49% of pastors rarely or never speak to their church in sermons or large group messages about acute mental illness.” So based on this representative alone, this conversation isn’t taking place in at least half of churches.
I believe that the church has been so key in providing hope, strength and community during trying times for a number of people, including myself. However, we just need better understanding and context around the different factors of mental health challenges or diagnosis.
It’s simply an area that a lot of leaders are not trained in- things like suicide prevention, panic attacks, bipolar, BPD, etc.
So we blanket these into solely matters of faith because it’s all we know, without taking into consideration a holistic perspective. I would consider the holistic perspective to be Bio-psycho-spiritual. This means that we understand there are biological, psychological and physical factors at work in a persons life.It’s a deeply dynamic conversation and it’s a challenging one. I think our leaders need more support in this area so that they feel confident in carrying out the mental health discussion in their church.
MVW: What can we do as Christians to help those around us battling anxiety, depression, etc.?
Brittney: I specifically wrote an article on this titled, “9 Ways to Love Someone Through Depression (or anxiety) That Actually Helps.” I encourage checking it out for a quick and solid breakdown! But in summary, I would say the first thing that we need to start doing is listening to understand. In the Christian world many of us have taken on this “Savior Syndrome” where we feel the full responsibility to quickly fix and advise a person. This tends to be where self-righteousness, misjudgments and assumptions creep in.
Listening means that we are simply trying to understand where a person is so that we can meet them there. We ask them what they need during this time and how we can help. We ask them if there’s anything that we can help keep them accountable to while they’re on their journey of recovery. We may not have all the exact answers but we can walk with a person and that speaks volumes.
The more practical thing we can do is educate ourselves.
Learn more about the diagnosis or challenge that they’re facing so that we have a better idea of what they’re facing which leads to more compassion, understanding and thus more competent support. These are things that anyone, anywhere can do.
MVW: How can readers learn more about your mission?
Brittney: Thanks again for thinking of me and opening this conversation up to your readers! They can continue to follow along at BrittneyAMoses.com. I’m currently working on getting more content up on my blog. You can always catch me on my socials as well where I talk about the intersection of faith and mental health! I’d love to hear more of your thoughts and questions.
Instagram Personal: instagram.com/brittneymoses/
Christian Mental Health Instagram: instagram.com/christianmentalhealth/
God bless you ladies! – Brittney
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