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Mental and Social Health | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Anna Mercedes


Theologies of suffering have been used by theologians, ministers, and faithful alike to try to understand why God allows innocent suffering. These ideas have been applied to wars, violence, starvation, grief, mental health challenges, and the list goes on. The primary focus of this project is the impact that theologies of suffering have had on the perception of mental health, the experience of those enduring the suffering, and the stigma surrounding treatment. While certain theological narratives are helpful for an individual to find meaning in their own pain, theologians must be careful of uninvited application of scholarship to another’s lived experience. Similarly, those who accompany a friend or loved one in their journey with mental illness should lead with compassion and support, not judgement or prescriptions. Perhaps theologies of suffering should not exist solely to extract meaning from suffering, but to seek the best course of action for encountering suffering in a productive way.