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Walla Walla, WA
Friday, December 8, 2023

God’s Role in Mental Health

November, 2023
Ana Segawa

The Intersection Between Spirituality and Mental Health

Ana Segawa

Jody Washburn and Pastor Andreas Beccai discussed the relationship between spirituality and mental health, and how understanding that the two are not opposites allows people to find balance without giving up on a deep spiritual life or mental wellbeing.  

Misconceptions and oversimplifications in conversations about spirituality and mental health and how they correlate can cause people to not look for professional help, even when there is a need. The comparison between quantity or quality of one’s spiritual life and mental wellbeing can cause a lot of confusion and pain when someone is facing mental issues. 

In her interview, Jody Washburn, a Walla Walla University professor who teaches religion and sociology classes, shared how at one point of her life, she struggled with depression. During that same period of time, she put her heart and soul into having a better spiritual life. However, the weight of depression still made it hard for her to do simple things like smiling for pictures even in celebration contexts. Because of this experience, Washburn finds problematic any assertion that all someone struggling with depression needs to do is pray and read their Bible more. [1] 

Andreas Beccai, WWU church head pastor, mentioned three different approaches he has come across: those who believe if one has enough faith they don’t need to think about mental health issues, going as far as considering going to therapy a sin; those who consider mental health strictly therapeutically treated and that God should be left out of the picture; and those who believe in medical treatment which is necessary and helpful when there are chemical imbalances. [2] 

Washburn reflected on how much her study of the Hebrew Bible has shaped the way she views the matter. While some people have their focus in sorting and separating things in opposites, as good or bad for example, she said, “When I think of creation theology as I see in the biblical text, I see God as the source and sustainer of this whole big interconnected system we live in and so I find it less useful to focus on separating.” [3] 

Therefore, she doesn’t see an opposition between looking for help in prayer and looking for help from a professional, they are complementary. The same God who helps through prayer is the one behind the wisdom and knowledge of psychiatry and psychotherapy, and both are resources that can be used in the process of healing. 

What Pastor Beccai concluded is that therapy and prayer should be partnered together. He mentioned that when people come with mental health issues searching for help, as a pastor he listens, gives them some Bible text that can help them with what they’re dealing with, prays for them, but also refers them to therapists or other resources that are available. [4] 

Pastor Beccai added, “Rather than saying, ‘if I have a mental health issue that means I can’t come to Jesus, because I’m a terrible person, because I don’t have faith enough,’” he said we should look for help in therapy but that also, he said,  “We can look at those challenges as a doorway, and not a dead end, to deepen our relationship with Christ.” [5]  

The way to balance spiritual life and professional help when dealing with mental issues is to acknowledge there are several resources such as counseling, bible study, therapy, and prayer, that can work together towards one’s healing fully, mentally, and spiritually. 



  1. Interview with Jody Washburn, 11/09/2023. 
  2. Interview with Andreas Beccai, 11/10/2023. 
  3. Interview with Jody Washburn, 11/09/2023. 
  4. Interview with Andreas Beccai, 11/10/2023. 
  5. Ibid. 



  1. How are you. Photo taken by Finn on Unsplash. 
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