Hope, Healing, and Mental Health

An Interview with Dr. Matthew Stanford

In any given year, 1 in 5 people will struggle with a mental health issue. If we said 1 in 5 people will have a compromise in physical health, we would start a prayer chain. But mention that the compromise is a mental health issue, and most people scatter, label, judge, and disappear.

Dr. Matthew Stanford
Special Needs Interviewee, Dr. Matthew Stanford

We tend to hide or deny what we cannot control or fix because most of the Western world clings to a dissected view of humanity; we partition our existence into labeled segments. We define one human life as sections of the whole . . . physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and so on, which dismisses a whole person. Labels are terribly confining and damaging; candidly, it is a self-righteous choice to judge or label any part or the whole person altogether.

With mental health issues on the rise, Dr. Stanford offers wisdom, knowledge, guidance, and practical tools the church desperately needs in caring for one another.

Watch the Interview

Interview Questions:

  1. What contributes to the low number of people seeking treatment for mental health issues?
  2. Why is there a sharp separation in how society perceives mental illness compared to physical illness?
  3. How can the church be part of the mental health solution to the mental health crisis?
  4. Educate us on how we separate mental illness from the activities of Satan.
  5. How are mental and physical issues part of the brokenness of this world?
  6. What can we do to help relieve someone’s suffering?
  7. What can the church learn from past mistakes?
  8. As a Christian, why is sharing someone else’s suffering important?
  9. What advice can you give pastors to help them guide a congregation regarding mental illness?
  10. Talk to us about God’s sovereignty.
  11. Can you talk to us about the Hope and Healing Center?

Let Me Hear from You

Dr. Stanford offers cutting edge information, tools, resources, and a variety of supports and services, which leave the church with no excuse in caring for those in need. Let’s break the awful stigma associated with mental health. God created us to be in relationship with Him and one another regardless of one’s abilities or challenges.

Most of us want to care but don’t know how; this interview focuses on “how” to connect with others in a way that brings healing. From here, how can you be an agent of change today? What are a few ways you can begin to connect with others? If you are suffering, what do you need from those around you? What makes you feel welcomed and supported?

Let’s remember, Christ called us to unity, peace, love, kindness, and humility—to be present with others. Why not identify one or two key points that challenged you to think out of the box, and let’s connect on these in the days ahead.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Dr. Matthew Stanford

Dr. Matthew StanfordMatthew S. Stanford, Ph.D. is CEO of the Hope and Healing Center and Institute (HHCI) in Houston, Texas, and adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine and the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston. National publications such as the New York Times, USA Today, and U.S. News & World Report, as well as Web sites such as Fox, MSNBC, and Yahoo!, have featured Dr. Stanford’s research on the interplay between psychology and issues of faith.

Dr. Stanford is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. As director of HHCI, he writes, conducts training seminars, and serves individuals living with mental illness and their families. He is the author of two books, Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness and The Biology of Sin: Grace, Hope, and Healing for Those Who Feel Trapped.

In addition, Dr. Stanford serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Family and Community Ministries and Behavioral Sciences and the Law. He is a member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Mental Health Advisory Group and the American Bible Society’s Trauma Healing Institute Advisory Council.

Matt and his wife, Julie, are the parents of four children and reside in Houston, Texas.

Dr. Matthew Stanford Resources

You can find resources and information at the Hope and Healing Center and Institute.

Insight for Living Ministries Resources

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Videos and Podcasts:

  • jean

    Dear Colleen,
    i was blessed with your discussion with Matthew colleen,also with how you ask him question,that is my question too.You said that
    you were once obliged to answer people who look bewildered when disrupted by your son’s trembling,where in you are not suppose to.I am tempted to do explaining too,when during my husband’s
    severe attack due to being overly distressed (succession of life changing events.his dismissal from his job,the death of his father,the rebellion of our only son,lack of sleep,and rest and proper diet and a lot more) people around us in the neighbor are disturbed by too much noise coming from our rented room.But the soonest i allow the Lord to calm me down and be focused on what i know is going on in my husband’s mind,i do not give any explanation.this is the moment by moment grace that i experience each day when i go outside the house and walk through questioning eye of onlookers,gossipers and obviously unbelievers.It takes me many years of practice to not bother what they are saying and simply mind what the Lord is saying.As long as what i am doing to help my husband is what the Lord is wanting me to do it is enough.I need not please anybody except my God.
    Thank you for sharing me your video interview with your gust speaker pastor Matthew.I am learning some more and is watching the video over and over again.
    The lord bless you so much colleen.jean

    • Jean,
      This is one of the most timely comments I’ve received…thank you.
      I’m so sorry for the many challenges you have endured….back to back….so thoroughly difficult and exhausting. You are right, the stress wears us down in so many ways. But, how wonderful that you have learned to let go of what anyone else is thinking or doing and focus on the one and only God, our heavenly Father, who directs our steps as we lean into His care. How I needed to hear this message today. Thank you for your kind words-Dr. Stanford is one of the most knowledgeable, gracious men on earth. His heart for others and their welfare is huge. I’m thrilled to know you are learning so much from the interview. May the Lord continue to guide you and keep you in His safe arms of comfort and protection, and fill you with hope and strength as you go through each day. As always, it’s wonderful to hear from you! Have a wonderful day! Colleen

      • jean

        On the early years of my marriage,i do not know that Christians can be inflicted with mental disorders,as i learn about my husband’s case by reading,psychology books,psychiatry too and many more i was freed from my ignorance and freed from self-pity (the why me self-talk?what have i done to deserve this?,i have been obedient…and many more self focused and boxed in self-defeating lies in my un-renewed mind.But by the time i discovered your ministry and learned that there are specials needs in the body of Christ that needs to be accepted to be very christian,i started transforming my mind in the light of the truth of my husband’s case.I admit my attitude to him is one that is not caring,and loving and respectful.,but when i read about Dr. James Dobson statement,that No matter what is the type of disability a person has,they must be treated with love,care and respect.Each day i remind myself of this quote of dr. Dobson,and often times i find myself quilt stricken so,I repent and started to redirect my attention to Christ’s mind on what does He want me to do?It was then that i learned that this is my cross to carry.As i accept it,i started seeking how is Christ’s compassion towards my husband?and as i receive from him his kind of love for my husband,i am angry to myself for i learned that there is a root cause since he was a child at age 4.But Praise be to our forgiving God to cleanse my thought from my guilt and started loving my husband the way Christ showed me do to him not as whole person but as person with special needs.I really glory in Christlike grace of acceptance,his grace and steadfast love is inexhaustible,always new every morning.Only to the cross i cling,all the heaviness of my burden as i come to Christ to replace them with his promise rest and light yoke and easy burden,did not remove my problems but is now bearable bec.Christ carry them for me.I thank the Lord for guiding me find your special needs Ministry.Thank you for your sacrifices and thought of us that needs your gift.Your name is a household name in prayer.Love.jean

  • Brandy Burke Abarca

    It is really hard living with Panic Disorder .People don’t get it and think you have a faith or spiritual problem. That may be true to an extent but it is very dismissive just to quote a verse . “God has not given Us a spirit of fear” or Be anxious for nothing” and expect Us to snap out of it.

    • Brandy,
      Your note is short and to the point which I would imagine means there’s a ton of pain and judgment you have endured….I am so, so sorry if you have! Yes, most Christians are very unfamiliar with mental health and judge or run…neither of which helps us does it. My prayer is that you will find safety here and in places where understanding and care is offered with grace. Several of my family members and friends have panic disorders-they are terrifying! I’ve sat with them through several, it’s one second at a time to get through it all. Please know I understand, I care deeply about where you are and how you are cared for and if there is anything I can do for support, please, please reach out and let me know. I appreciate you taking time to jot down your words here…full of soul and deep. You are very loved. Colleen

  • Jolene Philo

    I just finished reading Stanford’s book, Grace for the Afflicted. Along with this video, it is a valuable resource for believers who want both biblical and scientific explanations of mental illness. Thanks for adding this to the Different Dream link up.

    • Jolene,
      So good once again to connect with you. Matthew’s stuff is some of the very best out there, isn’t it! He is so knowledgeable and also full of grace! And, I’m so glad the interview was enjoyable too! Hopefully he can be a great resource for PTSD issues….he has been for us and I bet would help your audience as well. Great stuff to share my friend! Have a wonderful weekend! Colleen

  • Dearest Jean,
    What a story to share….one that I believe is common to many who choose to learn, grow, change, and mature. Your words are very thoughtful and I’m so thankful to know the Lord has used this ministry to assist your understanding of truth and our Lord’s love for us. Most of all, I am so touched by your humility….to admit where you are in the process is a massive step towards growth. Unless we take an honest look at where we are, evaluate what we believe, and move towards truth, our growth does not happen. You are obviously so passionate about your walk with Christ, your knowledge of His word, accepting yourself as a loved and also broken person like all of us…such incredible honesty, transparency, and hope for where you are growing internally. I pray you will be free of guilt over what is in the past and filled with empowered desire to continue growing. The transforming work of our Lord takes time, a release of many things, love, support from others, and a willingness to move forward. I see all of that in you when we connect and it’s an honor to be part of the process. May the Lord continually use us both to encourage and support one another as we come to a fuller knowledge of our Lord and those He puts in our lives. I pray you have a blessed, wonderful Easter as well. Colleen