I’m in danger: mental health

People who have left their faith often find their mental health at risk from many different angles, whether it be family, community, friends and sometimes we find ourselves being our worst enemy.

In our experience, the more conservative your background, the more risk there is towards your short and long term mental health due to addtional angles like honour, emotional abuse and sometimes physical abuse. However the impact and combination of religious and culturally traditional upbringing can have a significant impact on the mental health of people both within and outside of a faith system. This is not always limited to conservative families: every apostate’s story is different.

The impact of these risks can include mood swings, i.e. from spiritual highs to suicidal feelings and self-loathing about repeated “sins”, panic attacks about apocalyptic concepts like the rapture or the Day of Judgement and post-traumatic stress from honour based violence and psychological control.

Mental health is already very stigmatised in society, and often more so in conservative faith communities. This may make it hard for you to speak to people in your local faith community about your mental health, there is sometimes an instinctive pressure on them to protect their faith community.

There are many myths about mental health in general society, and this is more so in conservative communities and families. Be prepared to face downplaying of your mental health problems by friends and even family from your faith community, including the idea that your faith was somehow corrupted by a predisposition to psychological problems.

The best thing to do in this situation is to reach out to a mental health organisation or professional. There are also many fantastic resources online to speak to people who are non-judgemental about your mental health problems, often the first and hardest thing to do is simply accept that you have a problem.

We are currently building our list, but to start with:

UK: Large list of mental health charities with phone numbers

USA: NAMI

It is very important to remember: you are not alone