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Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Bipolar Mood Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that can affect one’s mood, behavior, and functioning. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Bipolar disorder . . . is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that

include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).” In other words, for a person affected by bipolar disorder, his or her mood can go “from zero to one hundred” in a short matter of time. The disorder is still being heavily researched by scientists and doctors, as it has no single definitive cause. Many speculate it could be caused by a combination of genetics, environment, and altered brain chemistry or structure.


Those who are diagnosed with the disorder typically experience both manic episodes and depressive episodes. People experiencing a manic episode might be abnormally upbeat, jumpy, or “wired.” They may have increased activity, energy, or agitation; have an exaggerated sense of self-confidence; and experience a

decreased need for sleep. The person may be abnormally talkative or easily distractible. Poor decision-making

is also a common sign. This often is manifested by the affected person engaging in large spending sprees or risky sexual behavior.

The disorder is also characterized by major depressive episodes, which include a depressed mood, lack of interest, loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue, and, in severe cases, feelings of worthlessness or thoughts of self-harm or suicide.


Forty-six million people around the world are currently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, including approximately 1 percent of the United States population. Those living with bipolar disorder have the highest likelihood of being classified with “severe” impairment in comparison to those living with other mood disorders. The average age bipolar disorder first appears is 25 years old, with people between the ages of 18 and 29 having the highest prevalence of the disorder. Left untreated, it can result in a 9.2-year reduction in the person’s expected life span.

The disorder can also contribute to the develop- ment of substance abuse disorder. Additionally, people

with untreated bipolar disorder have a higher risk (15 percent to 17 percent) of dying by suicide.


Treatment for bipolar disorder typically includes medication. Mood stabilizers are one class of medications commonly used to control manic episodes. Antidepressants can be used to help manage depressive episodes. Antipsychotics are used in combination with mood stabilizers and antidepressants if symptoms of depression or mania still occur. Treatment can also include regular therapy sessions so the affected person learns how to manage his or her emotions and create healthy habits in response to them.


If you or someone you know is struggling with any of the aforementioned symptoms, it is critical to seek diagnosis and treatment with a licensed mental health provider.

Bipolar disorder, when left untreated, can severely affect the life of the person living with the disorder, as well as the lives of the person’s family and friends. The extreme high and low mood swings can disrupt one’s workplace, personal life, and relationships. It is important the affected person gets an accurate diagnosis and starts treatment with medication and therapy so he or she can live as functional a life as possible.

Educating yourself and others about mental health disorders is always helpful. Through educating others and advocating for those with mental health disorders, we can reduce the stigmas and stereotypes that are associated with them.

Have compassion and sympathy for those who are living with mental health challenges. Love them in their disorder, and see them for who they are.


“Bipolar disorder.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed October 11, 2022. diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955.

“Bipolar Disorder.” National Alliance on Mental Health. Accessed October 11, 2022. “Bipolar Disorder—Fact Sheet.” Treatment Advocacy Center. Accessed October 11, 2022. https://

Dattani, Saloni, Hannah Ritchie, and Max Roser. “Mental Health.” Our World in Data. Accessed October 11, 2022.

RICKY B. WALLACE is the founder and owner of Psi Behavioral Health, LLC and Psi Health Care Services, Inc., a community mental health center located in an underserved area of Jacksonville, Florida, for nearly ten years. March 2023 | Missions Mosaic              

The information shared in this article is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.

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An Interview With An Eating Disorder Specialist

Eating disorders are mental and physical illnesses with the second highest mortality rate of all mental health disorders, affecting people across all genders, ages, races, religions, ethnicities, body shapes, and weights.

The National Eating Disorders Association estimates 20 million women and 10 million men in the US will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. And while causes can differ between individuals, a growing consensus suggests eating disorders develop from a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural as well as spiritual factors.


According to Alice H. Churnock, licensed professional counselor and certified eating disorder specialist with Covenant Counseling and Education Center in Birmingham, Alabama, eating disorders include anorexia (restricting food), bulimia (binge eating, then purging), exercise bulimia (working out to get rid of calories or food intake), binge eating (without purging), ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder), diet bulimia (manipulating blood sugar for weight loss), and orthorexia (“righteous” or clean eating).

“[An eating disorder is] a disease of the mind and the body,” Alice explained. “People don’t choose to have an eating disorder. [They are] sick, and we have to approach them and treat them like that.”

Individuals with eating disorders are often labeled, Alice noted, as though they could just eat a hamburger to become healthy. But eating disorders are more complicated. Alice said, “We [must] recognize that eating disorders are really not just about what [individuals are] eating, but it’s about what’s eating them and what’s causing the eating disorder. Our job is to find out [what causes this behavior].”

Eating disorders are a form of addiction, Alice pointed out. People wrestling with eating disorders must learn to manage eating habits and receive help to develop a healthy relationship with food. And eating disorders are not always related to body image, Alice explained. One young client developed ARFID after choking on a piece of bacon. Fear of choking again caused her to begin restrictive eating habits.


As with other mental health concerns, believers sometimes feel as though Christians won’t be affected by eating disorders. Alice disagrees with this mindset and instead incorporates spirituality into therapy, recognizing God is our Great Physician.“Scripture is full of examples of people struggling with mental health disorders, whether it’s depression, anxiety, or grief,” Alice asserted. We don’t “ignore the spiritual aspects because . . . ultimately God is the healer of all things. He gives us the wisdom and the tools that we need in order to take the steps toward healing.”


Warning signs often begin with changes in habits or behavior, Alice noted. Regularly skipping meals, going to the bathroom right after meals and staying there for a long time, repeatedly making excuses not to eat with the group, choosing exercise over relationships, and restricting or being preoccupied with certain types of foods are all common red flags.

“You can be an advocate for the person by stopping the ‘fat talk,’ stopping this ‘diet culture,’” Alice instructed. “Diets don’t work. . . . Be an example with your own eating habits—exercise, eat healthy, eat things that bring joy into your life.”

“Have face-to-face conversations about your concerns. I encourage people to speak fact and not just, ‘Are you okay?’”

Avoid accusing while encouraging deeper conversations, such as “I’ve noticed that you haven’t eaten anything the last three times that we’ve gone to lunch. What’s going on? How can I help?” This is more helpful, Alice explained.

Encourage them to tell someone and to seek help, too, Alice recommended. Offer to go with the person to counseling, and let him or her know you are walking alongside him or her in the journey.

For more information, visit


I’m Beautiful? Why Can’t I See It? by Kimberly Davidson

Perfectly Unique: Love Yourself Completely, Just As You Are by Annie Downs

You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer

Almost Anorexic by Jenni Schaefer

Life Inside the “Thin” Cage by Constance Rhodes

50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food by Susan Albers

Food: The Good Girl’s Drug by Sunny Sea Gold

LANELL DOWNS SMITH is a freelance writer living in Lapine, Alabama. She is a regular correspondent for The Alabama Baptist and serves as vice president for the Alabama WMU board of trustees.

Disclaimer: The information shared on this page is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.

Site Leader Resources


Talking Openly About Mental Health

Anxiety is a scary thing. It often misconstrues the truth, leaving us consumed with worry that refuses to let us function in the here and now.

 Unfortunately, anxiety is a common thread of humanity, something we all experience. We know the Bible tell us, “Do not be anxious about anything”

(Phil. 4:6), but for many, anxiety is more than a normal reaction to life. There is a distinct difference between worries we all experience and an anxiety disorder diagnosis.

 According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition in the United States. More than 40 million people, or 19.1 percent of adults in the US, have an anxiety disorder, and approximately 7 percent of children ages three to 17 experience issues with anxiety each year.


The common thread of anxiety disorders is excessive and irrational anxiety and related behavioral disturbances. While there are various types of anxiety disorders, some of the symptoms include the following:

  • Physical or behavior symptoms—chest tightness, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, sweating, trembling, feeling weak, difficulty sleeping, hyperventilation, gastrointestinal issues, headaches, dry mouth, tense muscles, isolation of self, being easily startled, irritability, restlessness, fidgeting, and avoidance of triggers (such as situations or places that might induce anxiety)
  •  Cognitive thoughts—I must be crazy. I must be having a heart attack. I feel like I’m going to faint. I might make a fool of myself in front of these people. I feel alone and depressed.
  • Emotional symptoms—an impending sense of doom, indecisiveness, rumination of ideas, difficulty concentrating on anything except the current source of anxiety, and intrusive thoughts.


Environmental factors (a prolonged illness or traumatic event), genetics, brain chemistry, developmental and psychological factors as well as substance abuse may all contribute to the risk factors of a person developing an anxiety disorder.

It is important to realize certain physical symptoms of anxiety disorders can be linked to or confused with other medical conditions, such as heart disease, chronic pain, and diabetes. Additionally, anxiety has a high rate of comorbidity, particularly with depression. Comorbidity is simply when an individual experiences two or more illnesses at the same time.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive fears and anxiety that typically persists for longer than six months. They often interfere with daily living.

There are various types of anxiety disorders with differing symptoms. Here is a list of some of the most common disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD produces persistent, irrational fear about various areas of life. This worrying may consume hours each day, making it hard to focus on completing daily responsibilities, and may result in a person being exhausted with headaches, the inability to sleep, and muscular tension.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “This disorder causes intense fear about social interaction, often driven by irrational worries about humiliation.” As a result, someone with SAD may avoid social situations or not contribute to conversations or discussions. They may worry about being scrutinized and, as a result, isolate themselves.

 Panic Disorder

This disorder is characterized by panic attacks and sudden feelings of terror, sometimes occurring repeatedly and without warning. A panic attack causes intense physical symptoms, such as dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations. Often people experiencing panic attacks begin to withdraw from situations or make unhealthy behavioral changes to avoid triggering additional attacks.


People with a phobia are fearful or anxious about certain situations or objects that cause irrational fear. They will typically go to great lengths to avoid these triggers. This avoidance may overtake a person’s life depending on the type and number of triggers he or she experiences.


An often-heard myth is mental illness can be “prayed away.” As Josh Weidmann said, “God is not the author of anxiety, but He is sovereign over it.” God can miraculously heal at any time of His choosing. However, anxiety disorders, like physical disorders, often need professional treatment, and the Lord has graciously provided us with those resources.

 Anxiety disorders are highly treatable; however, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the sad reality is only 36.9 percent of people with anxiety disorders receive treatment. It is critical for the church—God’s children—to talk openly about and normalize mental health challenges and available treatment resources. Often, the vulnerability of one who has dealt with a similar struggle sharing his or her experience will embolden others to step forward and seek help.

The type of treatment utilized by professionals will depend on the type of anxiety disorder needing treatment and may include psychotherapy or “talk therapy,” medication, and other complementary approaches, such as relaxation or grounding techniques. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is one of the common treatment modalities used by mental health or social work professionals treating anxiety. CBT works to examine and change one’s thoughts and behaviors.

When searching for a qualified mental health professional, it is important to find someone who is both professionally equipped and shares a common faith and belief system. Keep looking until you find someone who meets both criteria and makes you feel comfortable.


Educate yourself on anxiety and what your loved one may be experiencing. Learn the signs of anxiety and his or her potential triggers.

  • Listen and allow them to talk freely.
  • Encourage them to take care of themselves—eat healthy, get enough sleep, be physically active, and seek professional help. Remember anxiety can cause physical symptoms in addition to extreme stress. This is not the same “typical” worry everyone experiences. Telling others “I know how you feel” is not helpful.
  • Do not minimize their feelings or try to rationalize their fears. Saying things such as “It’s all in your head” or “Don’t stress about it” will likely make things worse, not better. They often know their fears are illogical, but that does not make the anxiety disappear.
  • Encourage them to spend time in God’s Word.
  • Help them separate truth from lies and to recognize their feelings are not necessarily the truth.
  • Do not expect treatment to bring overnight results. It will take time. Balance patience with encouraging their steps forward. Celebrate their achievements along the way.
  • Take care of yourself so you remain healthy while caring for them.

Jennie Ard is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and chief of staff at One More Child. Her work has focused on children and families, particularly in the realm of child welfare, including foster care, adoption, and mental health.

The information shared in this article is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.

Site Leader Resources


Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the US and is an illness that can affect anyone regardless of age, race, income, culture, or education. As Christians, we are not immune to depression. As we explore the Bible, we see many of its heroes experienced symptoms of depression.

Although the Bible does not overtly use the term depression, we see many biblical figures who encountered its effects. We know David suffered many traumas in his life and lamented in several verses.

In Psalm 38:6 and 8, David wrote, “I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. … I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart” (NIV). In Psalm 42:5, he asked, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” He cried out to God for help and prayed, “Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 143:7).

Other examples include Job, Jeremiah, and Elijah, who all journeyed through emotional distress with symptoms such as loss of hope, immense despair, lingering sadness, shame, and even passively suicidal events.

In 2021, the Boston University School of Public Health reported elevated rates of depression have worsened, climbing to 32.8 percent and affecting one in every three American adults. Current research suggests depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. For example, per the National Institute of Mental Health, risk factors may include a family history of depression, a major life change, experiencing trauma, and stress factors. It may even occur with serious medical conditions or be a side effect from medications.


Sadness is a part of normal life and can be attributed to events and experiences, but it is important to differentiate between sadness and depression. Depressive features include feelings of sadness that become prolonged and intense, last from months to years, and elapse into depression. Generalized feelings of worthlessness, apathy, and physical changes with sleep, appetite, and decreased energy also may occur. Symptoms caused by major depression can vary from person to person and may be dependent upon age. Other indicators include the following:

  • “Empty” mood, pessimism, irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Early-morning awakening or oversleeping
  • Weight changes
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempt


A doctor may determine a diagnosis of depression based on physical exams, lab tests, psychiatric evaluations, and utilizing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association.

The two common forms of depression include major depression and persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia). Major depression causes serious, persistent feelings of sadness and other symptoms that make functioning or enjoying life very difficult. Persistent depressive disorder is a milder but more chronic and lasting form of depression.

Criteria for the diagnosis include experiencing five depressive symptoms every day for at least two weeks, and one of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Other forms of depression include perinatal and/or postpartum, seasonal affective disorder, and depression with symptoms of psychosis. Individuals experiencing bipolar disorder also experience depression.


Depression is a common mental health disorder, yet some people may experience shame, fearfulness, and loneliness, and they may avoid seeking help even though depression is highly treatable, especially when treatment is provided early and consistently. As a result, they can manage symptoms and return to feelings of control and enjoyment.

Treatment is typically a combination of psychotherapy, medications, social support, and education. Antidepressants are often used to treat depression, along with cognitive behavioral modalities and interpersonal therapy. Treatment plans are developed with a professional mental health provider and are individualized based on the person’s needs, such as the type of depression and intensity of symptoms. Identifying personal preferences and goals is important as there is no one-size-fits-all treatment.


Receiving support from loved ones is crucial for those experiencing depressive symptoms.

  • Listen with understanding, with patience, and without judgment.
  • Offer encouragement through prayer, assist with positive thoughts through sharing happy memories, and remind them of their capability to feel enjoyment again.
  • Provide practical support—help with meals, chores, and appointments.
  • Encourage physical activity and social interactions.
  • Avoid trying to “cheer them up” or stating “snap out of it.”
  • Encourage professional help.
  • Don’t give up on them.

Dr. Pam Whitaker serves as senior vice president of program development at One More Child, a ministry that provides Christ-centered services to vulnerable children and struggling families. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor serving children and families for many years, she has witnessed the value of sound mental health that has provided helpful navigation through the stressors of life, resulting in personal growth and spiritual development.

Disclaimer: The information shared on this page is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.

Site Leader Resources


I often receive phone calls from caring individuals concerned about a friend’s mental health. They are seeing signs of depression or anxiety in their friend. They see worrying symptoms of isolation, lack of enjoyment in activities, and even just a shell of the friend he or she used to be. It is hard to watch someone suffer and not know how to best support him or her during a mental health struggle.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports one in five adults struggled with mental illness in 2020, but only 45 percent of those struggling seek help.¹ With statistics like this, you likely are concerned about someone in your life. Whether it is depression, anxiety, or another mental health disorder, knowing how to support and point the person in the direction of help can make all the difference.


When you first approach a friend with your concerns, have a plan of what you want to say. Write it out, and be simple and concrete. Make sure you are approaching others with compassion and understanding, not with shame or guilt about their struggles. What they need most is an available, empathetic listener who can gently guide them to whatever help they need.

Additionally, become familiar with the signs and symptoms of someone struggling with his or her mental health. Look for changes in mood, appetite, or social engagements or seeming to be restless or fidgety. You also want to pay attention to unexplained physical symptoms someone may be reporting, such as nausea, shortness of breath, or feeling fatigued. Let them know you see they are struggling and you want to be with them and help them find the resources they need to feel better. Often, when people are struggling with mental health, it is difficult for them to recognize how poorly they are feeling.

As an outsider looking in, you can help them see the bigger picture. You can help them put into words what they are experiencing. This is a helpful step as they explore different resources, such as meeting with a minister, getting professional counseling, seeking psychiatric help, or visiting their doctor. Offer to attend an appointment with them to help paint a picture of what you see. You can also point friends to skills that could improve their ability to cope, such as moving their bodies, keeping a journal, spending time with loved ones, or meditating on Scripture passages.


Most importantly, be patient. Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” This verse sums up what it means to come alongside those who are struggling with mental health. Be humble and gentle as you discuss what is happening with your friend, and be patient as you allow him or her time to utilize resources you discover together. Help bear your friend’s burden by sharing the weight of what he or she is experiencing.

Not all individuals will be ready to act on all you have to offer. Your job is not to fix them but rather to gently offer resources and a listening ear. Remember, if people are struggling with mental health issues, something that may seem simple for you might feel like climbing Mount Everest to them. Make sure to look for realistic goals and align your expectations with those goals.


Because you cannot give what you do not have, you must make sure you are caring well for yourself as you care for others. Your soul needs to be strengthened so you can bear the weight of these burdens. For this reason, you must make sure you are engaging in self-care.

One of the best pictures in Scripture of our need to care for our bodies is in 1 Kings 19. In this chapter, Elijah was fleeing a terrifying situation. He was emotionally desperate, and it is obvious his body needed care. He first lay down under a tree to sleep, then he ate food and drank water the angel brought, and finally he slept again. Verses 7 and 8 say, “The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank.” Without nourishment or sleep, Elijah could not have continued on his journey. We, too, cannot function or care for others if we are not doing the same.

Managing your emotions and setting boundaries for yourself is also a vital step. It is OK to know your limits and know you cannot be available all the time. Make sure to communicate your availability and when you need to take a step back. Be willing to add in other social supports, such as pastors, friends, and family, for yourself too. Remember, it is OK for you to ask for help if you begin to notice yourself struggling.

Without doing these things, you could be on the road to caregiver burnout. The Cleveland Clinic describes caregiver burnout as the following:

  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and other loved ones
  • Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Feeling blue, irritable, hopeless, and helpless
  • Changes in appetite, weight, or both
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Getting sick more often than usual
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring
  • Emotional and physical exhaustion
  • Irritability²

It is a sacred space to walk alongside someone struggling with mental health. But it takes energy and can take a toll if you are not also caring for yourself. Scriptures call us to care for one another and support one another. But we must do what we can to ensure we care for ourselves along the way.

Lisa Keane is a licensed professional counselor supervisor in Birmingham, Alabama, and a national board-certified counselor. For more than 15 years, Lisa has worked to help individuals and families seek hope and healing through counseling. She has been a speaker at national and local events on topics such as mental health, parenting, marriage, and many other issues. Lisa believes everyone deserves to live a full, meaningful life. She loves to work with individuals and families to help them discover how to do just that.

¹National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Mental Health By the Numbers,”

²Cleveland Clinic, “Caregiver Burnout,”

Disclaimer: The information shared on this page is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.

Site Stories

CWJC Helps Women Find Who They Are In Christ

(Photo courtesy of CWJC Carlsbad.)

One student — that’s all Christian Women’s Job Corps of Carlsbad, New Mexico, had on their class roster when they were getting close to starting their first semester in early 2021.

And even though it was just one, Margaret Bemis felt like it was just the right time to get started. It had not been an easy road to get there, and she felt like God was opening the doors.

Bemis said she and Cherish Lexvold, her co-director at the time, had just been getting things started to open the CWJC site in early 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

But even though the situation made getting set up more complicated, Bemis felt like the community needed CWJC’s services more than ever. CWJC, a ministry of Woman’s Missionary Union, offers women the opportunity to reach their full potential and improve their situation through job and life skills training.

So Bemis and Lexvold continued to push through, make plans and enlist mentors. They got the support of local churches — Church Street Church of the Nazarene, which provides the building and an operational budget, as well as First Baptist Church and First Presbyterian Church.

And when only one person signed up for their first semester, they kept going.

That first participant “was so eager to take the course,” Bemis said.

About two days before class started, a second woman signed up.

“I really do believe it was God saying, ‘The door is open; do it,’” Bemis said. “We probably had the best volunteer-student ratio that semester we’ve ever had. There were those two ladies, and they thrived and are still thriving and have grown since then.”

Both women had come from difficult backgrounds, and one had bounced around from place to place and didn’t know where to settle in, Bemis said. “She was just kind of blowing in the wind, and she was hoping she would get skills to get a better job.”

Now that woman is a spokesperson and a cheerleader for CWJC, Bemis said. “What she always ends up saying to the other ladies in our program is ‘you think you’re here so you can get a better job, and what you are going to find out is who you are in Christ.’”

The other student in that first class was struggling with addiction and now has a different story, Bemis said. “The strength of her testimony has been that, yes, she can get the job she wants now because she has much better skills — she really took hold of all the job skills that were offered to her. But she also said I know that I had strongholds that were keeping me from moving forward. I don’t have a struggle with alcohol anymore because it doesn’t offer me what I need.”

Since that original class, CWJC of Carlsbad has seen 12 more women graduate, including a 72-year-old widow whom they helped start a seamstress business after her husband passed away.

“She is thriving spiritually, and so is her business — she’s having to turn business away,” Bemis said.

A recent site development grant from the WMU Foundation’s Sybil Bentley Dove Endowment is helping CWJC of Carlsbad prepare to equip even more women. The endowment supports CWJC by providing scholarships to participants and a grant for Dove Award recipients in addition to site development grants.

Bemis said the funds they received for their site are going to purchase licenses for business software such as Canva Pro, Slack Pro, Adobe programs and QuickBooks. The grant also helped them purchase a new computer curriculum they will begin using in the fall.

“It’s been amazing to see what God has done,” Bemis said.

by Grace Thornton, writer for The Baptist Paper

Site Stories

Cross Walk to Life Staff Member Says God Put Pieces in Place for Ministry

(Photo Courtesy of Crosswalk to Life)

After Ana L. Uribe got married, the couple’s path took them all over the place — from Houston, Texas, to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Germany and then to Alabama.

But in 2020, the couple couldn’t shake the feeling that God wanted them to retrace their steps.

“We felt God keep moving our hearts to move back to Las Cruces, but there were no jobs for my husband,” Uribe said. “So we said, ‘If God wants us to go back, He will open doors.’ And He sure did.”

Uribe’s husband was offered a good job at the place he used to work, and they rejoined the church they had been a part of there — Iglesia Bautista Buenas Nuevas (Good News Baptist Church). But not long after they moved back, a tragedy happened — the pastor and his wife both died of COVID-19.

Uribe said her husband knew instantly that the call to pastoral ministry that he had been running from for a while had finally caught up to him.

“That was the feeling God had placed in our hearts to come back to Las Cruces,” she said.

He became the church’s pastor, and Uribe led the women’s ministry.

She revived Mujer Virtuosa (Virtuous Woman), a ministry that she had started when they lived there 12 years before, hosting a monthly breakfast and inviting women from all walks of life to hear the gospel, find community and talk through any life issues they might be facing.

Uribe’s heart was in this kind of ministry. And it wasn’t long before an opportunity came along to do more of it — as administrative assistant for Cross Walk to Life, a Christian Women’s Job Corps site that offers women the opportunity to reach their full potential and improve their situation through job and life skills training.

“I got hired and started working there part time,” Uribe said, noting that she appreciated that one purpose of the ministry was to serve the large Hispanic community there.

Her fluency in both languages made her a perfect fit, along with her technology skills and heart for the ministry, said Carol Gilliland, director of Cross Walk to Life.

“We need someone who is good with technology and has good office skills so she can take care of the necessary things to make the ministry run smoothly,” Gilliland said. “She’s a whiz-bang at it.”

In the time Uribe has been there, she’s helped draw more women to Cross Walk to Life by networking in Spanish on Facebook. She’s also taught classes in English and Spanish in addition to organizing the ministry’s schedule and newsletters and taking care of other logistics. Starting in September, she will teach a new class on money management that the women have been asking for.

“She’s a blessing from God,” Gilliland said. “She’s very gifted, and she’s helped us reach people. She’s the glue that holds us together.”

The funding for Uribe’s role comes from a site grant from the WMU Foundation’s CWJC/CMJC Endowment, something Gilliland says she’s grateful for.

“I love what God has done at Cross Walk to Life through her help,” Gilliland said.

Uribe said she’s thankful for the way God has moved everything around to get her and her husband — along with their two sons, who are now teenagers — in the right place and provide what they needed to get there.

“It’s been a great experience,” she said.

Many of the women now go to her church also, and one of Cross Walk to Life’s participants who had no previous experience with computers became the church secretary after graduating from the program. Uribe is grateful to see those kinds of stories.

“It’s been a blessing all around to be a part of this community and the women that we’re serving,” she said.

by Grace Thornton, writer for The Baptist Paper

Site Leader Resources


Admitting our vulnerability can be uncomfortable. But if we take an honest look at Scripture, we discover God motivates vulnerable people like you and me to love other vulnerable people by becoming vulnerable for them. Vulnerability is not a curse but rather the key to connection and community.

In Genesis 2:18, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God created humans with an innate need for one another. Community is an invitation to participate in life together, complete with all the differences that make us who we are as unique beings. Though many in the local church can appreciate community in theory, its implementation and practice are often a different story. Many people living with mental illness can testify to this fact.

Mental illness is simultaneously overlooked and often stigmatized in local church settings. According to Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, a 2021 survey showed that “While preaching on mental illness is the norm and even more pastors feel their church is responsible to help the mentally ill, still 37% of pastors rarely or never bring it up from the pulpit.”¹ This culture of silence must change for us to experience the community and connection God desires for us in the local church.


1. Normalize discussion about mental health.

If a particular church is not discussing mental health or mental illness, the congregation will assume it is not a high priority for those in leadership. Encourage your pastor to find opportunities to talk about it from the pulpit regularly. Plan to have systematic studies about it in your small groups. Offer training on mental health, abuse, and becoming trauma-informed for those who would like to learn more. Create and provide a list of mental health resources and services available in your area. By addressing mental illness from the pulpit and in groups, you give the congregation multiple connection points to enter the conversation.

2. Reach out to local nonprofits and social services in your community.

You don’t have to do this work alone. There are likely many organizations and service providers in your community you can contact. Google “mental health” plus “nonprofits” and your zip code. Set up a meeting to learn more. Invite the organization or service provider to offer training at your church.

3. Offer counseling in your church.

Though talking to your church and your community is a start, confidential mental health services are also crucial. Reach out to local counseling centers, establish a relationship with them, and refer people to them.

4. Embrace your vulnerability.

It’s difficult to discuss the mental health of others when we neglect our own. By addressing our issues, we are better poised to engage with others. Choosing to process through your brokenness, pain, anxiety, and disillusionment will lead to self-awareness. As we become acquainted with our frailty, the boundary between “us” and “them” will fade, and we will realize that it’s just us. We’re all living with the tangible effects from the Fall. Understanding what we bring to the conversation helps provide an equal footing as we talk to others in our communities.


The words we say matter. In many cases, we hurt people around us without even knowing. Here are a few things we should avoid saying and what we can say instead:

  • Avoid saying the phrases “suffering from” or “battling” mental illness, which convey a negative connotation. Instead, you can say “living with a mental illness” to unlock empathy, compassion, and many other positive things.
  • Avoid using words like crazynuts, or schizophrenic in conversation to describe things that do not pertain to mental health. Though these statements may be casual to you, they can send a stigmatized message to someone living with a mental illness.
  • Avoid saying things like “pray harder” or “if only your faith were stronger, you wouldn’t struggle with [fill in the blank].” This statement is shame-inducing and accuses rather than heals. Instead, if you have built the relational capital with the person, offer to pray with him or her. Remind others of how Christ lived, died, and rose in their place. Focus on what was done for them rather than what you feel they should do.
  • The Bible tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Being thoughtful about the words we say can make the difference between someone engaging further with the church or feeling rejected.

Raleigh Sadler founded and serves as the executive director of Let My People Go, a national ministry focused on empowering the local church to address human trafficking. He is the author of two books, Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking and The Let My People Go Handbook.


For more information about national WMU’s focus on mental health, visit

Disclaimer: The information shared on this page is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.

Site Leader Resources


A plethora of mental health definitions exist. There’s even a basic definition of “an absence of a mental disorder,” proving the one thing we can all agree on is it is difficult to define mental health. This speaks to the complexity of the Lord’s creation and how we are made in His image.

The American Psychiatric Association states mental health is “the effective functioning in daily activities resulting in productive activities (work, school, caregiving), healthy relationships, [and the] ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity.” In addition, a compilation of resources cite mental health as demonstrated through realizing one’s potential, feelings of self-worth, and community contributions as well as intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development. Mental health is the foundation of these characteristics and a crucial element for meaningful participation in society.

In contrast, the American Psychiatric Association defines mental illness as “changes in emotions, thinking, or behavior, or a combination of these.” Mental illnesses can be mild to severe and may take on many forms; however, to meet the criteria for a mental illness, the symptoms must cause significant distress in life domains and occur for an extended and specified amount of time. Significant mental illness may require hospitalization and varied treatment modalities, including medication.

Although we all experience the ups and downs of mental health, temporary valleys of mental health may be related to stressful events, such as the loss of a loved one or other life events. These do not require professional intervention. It is important to note there is no single cause of mental illness but more so a combination or range of variables, including biology, environmental exposure, genetics, and life experiences that may result in mental illness.


The Bible speaks about mental health as it addresses our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as well as our hearts and souls. The concept of mental health is integral in all of Scripture. In fact, Jesus said the greatest commandment states, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).

The Lord cares about our mental health because we matter to Him, and He desires to be intimate with our thoughts and feelings through prayer. He provides for our mental health through the Holy Spirit, who is our comforter and counselor. The Lord provides hope through support systems, godly Christian mental health professionals, and medications as needed when our mental health suffers.

Scripture offers examples related to mental health that indicate self-care can be both physical and mental. Paul acknowledged physical exercise as profitable (1 Tim. 4:8) and encouraged Christ’s followers to maintain a positive thought life (Phil. 4:8), while Jesus took several respites from His demanding time on earth.

As a church body, it is important to promote positive mental health because it allows people to realize their full potential in their relationships with God, others, and their communities. Positive mental health allows individuals to serve, minister, and evangelize effectively.


As followers of Christ, we are to share the hope we have in the knowledge of the restoration of the world through Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19–20). God also commands us to love our neighbors. Those with mental health struggles require us to address the uncomfortableness of the often-perplexing nature of the mind, body, and soul. As Christians, there is a common propensity to fear when ministering to those experiencing mental health struggles, and if not thwarted, this attitude can exacerbate the marginalization of those with mental health struggles in and out of the church body.

The church can use the following practices to promote mental health:

  • Provide mental health education as a method to reduce stigmatization.
  • Become a trauma-informed care church by realizing the widespread impact of trauma, understanding the pathways to recovery, recognizing the signs and symptoms of trauma, responding by fully integrating knowledge into practices, and resisting re-traumatization.
  • Cultivate certified Mental Health First Aid practitioners in the church. Click here for information on Mental Health First Aid trainings offered through WMU.
  • Equip members to lead and champion mental health initiatives within the church.
  • Ensure the church provides a resource website for trustworthy mental health providers in the area who subscribe to sound Christian theology.

Dr. Pam Whitaker, EdD, LMHC, CCTP, serves as senior vice president of program development at One More Child. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor serving children and families for many years, she has witnessed the value of sound mental health that has provided helpful navigation through the stressors of life, resulting in personal growth and spiritual development.

For more information about national WMU’s mental health focus, visit

Disclaimer: The information shared on this page is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.

Site Stories

Entrepreneurship Program for Women in Texas Gets Boost from Grant

(Photo courtesy of Jacob Lackey)

Sometimes things start with one person who is really passionate, and then they take off from there.

That’s Lydia Tate’s opinion at least.

She’s seeing it happen at Christian Women’s Job Corps of McLennan County, Texas, where an already-thriving ministry has moved to the next level thanks to a college student volunteer and a program development grant from WMU Foundation.

Tate, director of the CWJC site, said the idea for their new entrepreneurship program started in early 2020 when she spoke to a business class at Baylor University. One student — Jacob Lackey — was particularly interested in the mission and vision of the CWJC site and wanted to see how he might help.

Seeing, responding to a need

“Afterward he came up to me to talk about entrepreneurship and the vision he has for bringing those skills to the community,” Tate said. “He offered to volunteer and bring his knowledge in entrepreneurship to the program. He offered to bring a curriculum to us to teach this concept to our women.”

Lackey had started his first successful business at 14 and gave a TEDx Talk about it at 16.

“I see this need, I want to meet it and I’m passionate about it,” he said.

He said he wanted to be able to share with the women at CWJC of McLennan County that it’s OK to have challenges and barriers against starting a business — he experienced that uphill battle as a teenager.

But it’s doable if someone is passionate, Lackey said.

“Only 30 percent or so of entrepreneurs have a high school diploma,” he said. “It’s not a field dominated by people with doctorates.”

So in spring 2020, Lackey led a three-day workshop via Zoom for students at the CWJC site to teach them about entrepreneurship, evaluate their own ideas and see if they had the expertise and passion to get started in their own business. He also gave them resources to plan their next steps.

“I loved seeing how engaged the women were and the ideas they already had,” said Lackey, who is now a Baylor graduate and member of the CWJC of McLennan County board of directors.

‘Wildly successful’

Tate said the workshop was “wildly successful — everybody loved it.”

The grant will be seed money to start wrapping some structure around the idea, she said.

“Essentially what we would like to do was to start a program where a student will come in and take a host of classes given by volunteers in the community. They will learn about marketing strategies, digital spaces, brick-and-mortar spaces and how those happen,” Tate said. “They will learn about everything from what does it look like to have a business all the way to launching a business.”

CWJC would also have student interns who would have hands-on learning opportunities through running an online shop modeled after Woman’s Missionary Union’s WorldCrafts space, she said.

“Those interns would complete a year with us from September to May, then apply for a micro loan to start their own business,” Tate said.

“Our goal is to fund those micro loans and those opportunities so that a woman can start with us not knowing anything about a business to starting and funding a business. That’s the hope, and WMU Foundation has created a space for us to start dreaming about that.”

The entrepreneurship program is part of the site’s GLOW (Growth Learning Opportunities for Women) program, which offers free job skills and career building workshops and classes.

Tate said they hope through the entrepreneurship program to “really and truly empower women to start their own businesses and have some ownership over their income.”

by Grace Thornton, writer for The Baptist Paper