Mental health within Black churches receives increasing attention

One Sunday morning in Anderson, nearly 30 years ago, Reverend Dwight Holland was on mission pastor at his second church when he noticed a young woman crying.

He asked her to come to his office.

What she ended up sharing with me blew my mind,” Holland said.

Holland said the woman told him that a member of her family had molested her.

Feeling “powerless,” he did what he was trained to do: he listened, he prayed, and he gave her some scriptures.

Dwight Holland of Family and Community Partners was optimistic about fading stigmas surrounding mental health issues in various black communities, Indianapolis, November 10, 2021.

“But in that moment she needed more than that, and she realized,” Holland said.

However, 30 years ago, when the Church did not really recognize mental health, the Netherlands persisted, eschewing the black community, considering mental illness either a sign of weakness or a source of shame.

Those were his only known options.

Today, the Netherlands, 63, is taking a completely different approach.

He has since earned a master’s degree in Psychotherapy and Faith from Christian Theological Seminary and is part of a movement to reduce the stigmatization of mental illness within black churches across central Indiana.

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