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How to make people understand mental illness?

Community Member

This thought has been bugging me for decades, having had so many traumatic experiences when dealing with people and relationships. For the most part, I have kept my illness to myself having lost "most" of my friends (even family) after divulging my mental condition to them. I can't for the life of me understand why people shunned me when i needed them the most. I cant understand why my church community, specially the priest, mock mentally ill people, saying that depression is an illness of the spoiled and elite who use mental illness as an excuse to blame things on, and that if one truly believed in God then one can't be mentaly ill?

That said, what do you guys do? I've been trying to explain myself but all I've ever said has fallen on deaf ears or worse. I'm trying to reach out, and the response i get is persecution. What gives?

4 Replies 4

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion


There is a strong wonderful community here simply for that reason, because most people cant relate to us.

I have a neice in a religious cult that once told me I habe a mental illness due to not believing in God.

Please google these.

Beyondblue Topic they just wont understand, why?

Beyondblue Topic fortress of survival


Community Champion
Community Champion

Code blue,

I am so sorry to you have been treated like this by your church people whom you trusted and would hope would be understanding.

i was diagnosed over 40 years ago and have seen many changes in understanding. IN the 1970s there was much I gonrance due to lack of information and stigma. It over the decades and especially with organisations like Beyond Blue and Black Dog Institute more people seem to understand.

in the last ten years I have given talks to community groups and have found people want to understand more.

I also feel that unless you have experienced mental illnesses or cared for a loved one, it can be hard to understand.

I find friends are curious and interested in my experiences.

Of course there are always people who feel because they have never been depressed etc, then they can’t see why other people would be.

I suppose I am hopeful that people are changing and if someone says something to me that shows they don’t understand I try to politely educate them.

Thank you for starting this interesting thread.


Community Champion
Community Champion


Welcome to beyond blue.

Sorry to hear about the responses you have received, including those from your church community. (There is so much wrong in what your priest has said. )

I also go to church and the response is different. Mind you I was also seeing a psychologist when I told them, not that it should make any difference. On the family front, it helps if other people in your family or friends suffer from a mental illness for understanding. Again, it doesn't make sense, as there has to be a first person to speak about it. And the unfortunate thing is they can't see what goes on in our mind.

There are also some good books written by christians, who haave the same view as me, that belief or faith in God does not stop you from suffering from a mental illness. If I could find the title I would tell you. And God did not give you the mental illness either.

At least here you will be able to chat with people who do understand, and help each other as we can in this space. You can also check out the social areas in the forums to just chat about random stuff. You are not alone here.

All the best,


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Code Blue,

Thanks for your post. I too am sad and disappointed to hear of what's happened; there is stigma and misunderstanding in so many different communities, cultural and spiritual ones certainly being one of them.

I have religious families who have been through mental illness, and they actually had the same attitudes - that mental illness was basically for the ungrateful who had petty problems and couldn't see the bigger picture. The same sorts of attitudes that you've mentioned. But it was only once they saw it and went through it they saw how wrong they were.

It's one thing to have misunderstandings about mental health, but it's another when it's so ingrained in their beliefs and cultures. For me personally, I don't think I could have ever changed their attitudes beforehand, even with all this science and data we have about it being a very real condition.

With all of that said though, in one sense it shouldn't be relevant. Depending on what religion/church you're part of, for the most part it's 'love thy neighbour' or similar. The love and compassion for others should outweigh the terrible ideas they have around mental illness. How might you be able to rally up some better support for you with people who care and understand?