Anthropologist (of both mental illness and religion) T.M. Luhrmann has picked up on a new policy of evangelical churches to get involved in the care of serious mental illness. Now instead of struggling with the differences between the mind and the brain we've thrown in new dimension - the soul. Surely the church has done much too stigmatize mental illness (suicide in particular) but Luhrmann might be right that there's also great potential to use them as sites of healing and treatment for serious mental illnesses. Rates of psychiatric service utilization remain low and (at least in the US) rates of church attendance remain high - can a solution be found by merging the two to some degree? It might be worth try because as Luhrmann notes we're desperately in need of something to improve mental health services.
These churches are not trying to supplant traditional mental health care. “When someone asks, Should I take medication or pray?” one speaker remarked, “I say, ‘yes.’ ” But they think that there aren’t enough services available for people who are really sick, and they think that many people don’t turn to them anyway because of the stigma. And so they think that there are a lot of people who aren’t getting the help they need.