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Where therapy meets theology when addressing mental health

'There are some things that you need extra help with'
Posted: 5:00 AM, May 15, 2024
Updated: 2024-05-15 11:00:31-04
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Editor's Note: This story is part of a series of stories, "Are You OK?" from KSHB 41 News and the KSHB 41 Community Advisory Board during Mental Health Awareness Month. Additional mental health resources are available in Kansas and Missouri. Help is always available by dialing 988.

The subject of mental health can have an extra level of complication for people of faith.

Some version of, "You need to pray about it," can become the driving thought — either from the person struggling or people around them.

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I went to speak with a couple of past guests of my "Faith in KC" podcast about what to do when prayer doesn't seem to cut it.

"Prayer is helpful. We know that," Bobbi Jo Reed told me. "But also, there are some things that you need extra help with, and we're not supposed to be ashamed of those things."

Reed knows about help. She knows about shame, too.

Many in Kansas City are familiar with her story of battling addiction and homelessness at an early age. Today, Healing House, the organization she founded, helps hundreds of people escape those same situations.
 
She is, almost daily, an answer to someone else's prayer. She was even recognized by the Missouri Mental Health Foundation as a Mental Health Champion in 2018.

"To me, when you're a champion, you're doing something to bring others along with you," Reed said.

That includes connecting people with help while praying for them at the same time.

"People of faith can go through mental health struggles, and that's not because you're bad,” Reed said. “That's not because you're doing something wrong or you don't have enough faith. We all have brokenness, and we all have things that we need to heal from."

Pastor Darron Edwards, of United Believers Community Church, couldn't wait to talk about the intersection of theology and therapy.

He’s heard the same answer to struggles from a lot of believers.

"Take it to the Lord in prayer," he said to me. “And just pray about it and leave it there. But what we discovered is that a lot of people have deeper issues that they really need to talk about."

Edwards practices what he preaches.

"I have a white, Jewish lady that I go to that nobody else knows, where I can just go and be myself and talk about the issues in my life," Edwards said.

Sunday, May 19, his church is hosting a mental health event to start the conversation about how people of faith can do more than pray.

Additionally, the church is partnering with ReDiscover to provide a trained therapist at the church once a month.

I asked him if he thinks people will actually make appointments.

"I know for a fact that there will be first-time goers,” Edwards said. “They're already pre-signing up."

Reed said conversations like those can keep people from falling into the darkest moments of their lives.

"You know what, I am a full believer in God and Jesus Christ, and I put all my hope in Him, that's for sure," she said. “I am not so staunch in my faith that I don't believe God uses doctors and medication as part of our healing journey."

If you’d like to listen to my "Faith in KC" conversations with Edwards and Reed, you can click here and here. Those episodes were recorded in 2021.

To watch the documentary about Reed’s life and journey as the founder of Healing House, you can click here.

You can also listen to a podcast about the making of that film here.