You Can’t Pray it Away Religion and Mental Health

Religion has a way of making mental health challenges feel like moral failure. It is important for us to be able to get the tools to satisfy the development of all parts of us as a member of the human race. We are spiritual beings in physical bodies so why wouldn’t we go to people who can help us develop to our fullest capacity. One doesn’t take away from the other. In this episode Brooklyn New York Based psychotherapist Nikita Banks, LCSW starts the discussion.

Nikita Banks, LCSW  0:00  

New York City based psychotherapist Nikita Banks, a licensed clinical social worker, and I’m your host of The Black therapists podcast, formerly black in therapy. The black therapists podcast is a place where we will discuss the unique issues people of color face. When dealing with mental health issues and mental health diagnosis, you can listen to our show on SoundCloud, iTunes and Google Play. You can follow us on Instagram, the black therapist podcast, or you can hit us up on our website, and sign up for our mailing list at Black therapists podcast.com. Also, on our website, you can find the links to our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages. You can also email us show suggestions, general feedback, and any ideas that you have for I don’t know guess, at Black therapists podcast at gmail. com. Hey, guys, so if you’re in New York City area, and you’re listening to this show, the weekend release during the week, Easter, which is April 1, then come out and meet me on April 5, that this this Thursday, I will be on South Street Seaport and a VIP court he said, she said and it is sponsored by or presented by fearless women. This Thursday, you can come out and meet me for a relationship, you can come out and meet me. I will be on a relationship panel called he said she said Hey guys, if you’re in New York City area, you would like to meet me in person, you can come out to an event that we’re having. It’s called he said she said it’s a relationship panel presented by go Girls Inc. and fearless women, I will be one of the female panelists go me, along with male therapist and some male panelists. And we’re going to be talking about loving relationships.

Nikita Banks, LCSW  1:56  

If you are listening to this show later on,

Nikita Banks, LCSW  1:58  

you can contact me because my mental health relationship course will be up and live probably by the time that you listen to this show. And you might want to contact me to get some info to see when you can join when the next time it’ll be open, if there is time for you to get into the most recent cohort, etc. So if you want to join us for our relationship panel discussion, or if you want to join me for the relationship class, make sure that you contact me at Nikita, in IKITA. Banks com Take care. So I had an amazing opportunity,

Nikita Banks, LCSW  2:41  

probably last week,

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to create a mental health course in response to something that was going on in one of the groups that I’m in. So I have a friend. And you probably have heard of her because she’s been on and she’s like, everywhere. Her name is the budget nice de Tiffany elite j and G a finance group. And I’m one of the people who are in the group. When she first started, I supported her very early on and she knows me. And she knows what I do and how I’m passionate about mental health for people of color. And so it was a post in the group, it caused people some Distress, we thought that possibly a member of the group was going through some mental health trials, and there wasn’t a plan in place on in the group on how in that space, she would deal with someone who was in distress. So I happen to had been free that day, she called me on the phone, and we called the person and we were able to provide her with some resources. So yeah, you know, we had a conversation with her and I was asked to kind of see if she was a danger to herself. I didn’t think that she was. And what we did was we were able to kind of work with her figure out what the presenting problem was, what were some of the things that we could help her do in order to kind of final resolution to what the issues were. And I think for the most part, we were pretty successful, and just kind of getting her to reframe, and we focus the attention that she had and the distress that she had in that moment, to more positive actionable steps to resolve the issues. So it was pretty cool in that moment to be able to be a part of the solution. And so what we ended up doing was, you know, I worked with Tiffany to create a plan in place on how the administrators of her group, she’s a fairly large group, 250,000 women, probably more male, check the numbers because it’s not my group. But there are a lot a lot of women in that group, internationally and all over the place. So while I’m not practicing therapy, for the women in the group, I do try to be a resource to Tiffany or the women that are there. So what I ended up doing was helping her and her team come up with a way to address issues with somebody is expressing that they have some sort of distress in the group. And then I also worked with her in service of the group and the members that think of like the wave that I would be able to contribute to some of the members, I was able to create our free mental health course, in response to some of the posts and the things that I saw going in group. And as I told you, if you want to sign up for our free mental health course, you can send me an email at Black therapist podcast at gmail. com. Also, you can go on black therapists, podcast, com, sign on to our mailing list, and you will get that as well as our free upcoming newsletter with resources etc. Where you can sign on to a mailing list at Nikita in IKITA. Banks. com yeah. So in the course what I did was I talked about some of my mental health struggles, why you need to have a mental wellness toolkit, why you need to have a proactive mental wellness to mental wellness plan, as well as what to do if you or someone you know is an emotional distress, how to ask for help seven ways to find a therapist. And what to do, if you are someone is going through mental health distress, the course is free. Some of the therapy options that are listed in there are free, some of them are low cost, some of them you have to invest in. And so I decided that I wanted to do this because I’m in the process of building a lot more mental health courses for people of color. And I figured I might as well just make this the first one my next paid course launches in launches next month. So that course I’m extremely excited about it has a workbook and we are going to talk about that in a few weeks. If you want information about that, once you sign on to the other one will send you the information and the fee resources to access the other course the full course will be paid the short version of the course or mini lesson of the course will be free, and to get you started. So that’s that anyway, the reason that I’m doing this show today is because what Tiffany asked me to do was to have a conversation with the group members and let them know behind the scenes how we were going to address members who have mental health issues. And of course, this is something that I did off with the course to them in the group, but how

Nikita Banks, LCSW  7:01  

it kind of went off the rails number one just kind of speaking live. So that number of women, or that number of people in the group, it is stressful. I mean, I do public speaking and stuff was still doesn’t mean that I’m not nervous. You know, I’ve I’ve done TV before, not in this capacity. I’ve done TV shows before I performed live before in my own life. But it still makes me nervous. And I also don’t I told you guys, I don’t listen to the old shows, because it makes me nervous. And I’m super judgmental. But anyway, I did this live, and I believe was just going to talk about the free mental health course and the resources of what we’re going to do behind the scenes. But of course, because it wasn’t a forum where people were like asking me questions and stuff, I ended up really talking about my own mental health struggles. And as you know, if you listened more than once here, I’m very transparent about going to a therapist and how much that has helped me improve my life and why I’m committed to doing what I do due for my community. And so it was all going well, until one person commented now, you know, the majority of the comments was super duper positive. And I’m cool with that. But as with most people with one person says something negative you focus in on that one thing, what happened was, as I was telling a story about my mental health issues, and then the response was Jesus is my therapist. Now I’m religious as the next girl. You know, I believe in in Christ, I was raised in church, I believe in the Bible, I don’t like when anybody talks against the Bible. I don’t like people who don’t like believers, because I think that there is power in believing that ends I personally am not, I’m not narcissistic enough to believe that man is the end all and be all on the planet. Like there has to be some other force at work that sustains us. And so whether I’m against, as you guys know that I’m not my career is based on science. I also believe in the power of spirituality. And the unknown, as most intelligent people know, they don’t know everything. Right. If I don’t know anything, I do know that I don’t know everything. So when the person put up the post, about Jesus, being a therapist, I felt the need to address it, especially in the spaces where there are so many black people and people of color. Religion has a way of dismissing us. It has a way of making us feel smaller. It has us with a way of making us feel not worthy. And I talked about this. And I’ve talked about this extensively here. But I also talked about this in my the my journey in my free course. Like when I was depressed and I told my mom and she told me to pray about it. I was offended, because of course I prayed about it. Of course, I prayed. And sometimes when you pray, and you’re praying about some sort of decision stress, like you have a diagnosis or you have a if this is any other diagnosis, right? If you had a cold, nobody would tell you to pray about it. They would tell you to get up and get cold medication, go and take something they wouldn’t just tell you to pray about it. And you say, Oh my god, I have the flu today. Nobody was saying let’s just pray that God deliver you from it? No, they would tell you to go somewhere. If you told somebody you have cancer, they would not tell you to pray about it. So why when I tell you I’m having mental distress, do you tell me to pray about that feels dismissive. It felt like she didn’t want to hear it. I felt I felt unseen. I felt like I was being told not to feel what I was feeling. I felt like I was being judged. I felt like it was a weakness in me that the the stance in church, that if you have schizophrenia, it is of the devil, or you are evil or you are possessed the stance in church, that if you are depressed, it is your fault. And you are not faithful to God is a problem.

Nikita Banks, LCSW  11:08  

Hey, so I just wanted to

Nikita Banks, LCSW  11:11  

reiterate that when I say churches, I don’t mean all churches. I think some churches are really doing an amazing job of highlighting the issues of mental health, and actually providing solutions like Harlem’s hope Counseling Center, which is a division of First Corinthians Baptist Church in Harlem, and the pastor Michael a Waldron is amazing. And he’s an amazing mental health advocate. And so I do want to say some churches,

Nikita Banks, LCSW  11:41  

but

Nikita Banks, LCSW  11:42  

for a lot of churches, mental health is not treated with the respect that it deserves. And I know that Michael Walden is actually not the only one. So it was triggering. I’m going to be 1,000% honest with you. And if there’s some people who are in that group, and you hurt me that day, then you No, it was triggering for me. When she stated that. And not only that, she stayed up, she kept going back and forth. Like oh, I’m gonna pray for you. And don’t discount the Bible. And I’m not discounting the Bible, I said upfront that I am a Christian woman, I believe in God, I believe in Christ. But I also believe that faith without works is dead. But I believe that when I was in the depths of my depression, my faith is what held me, it taught me that God was going to send me better. And that it let me know that this was not this suffering was not my true calling that suffering did not have to be a part of my ministry did not have to be a part of my story. And that if I could get over it, if I could survive this test, it will be a part of my testimony. But you had to get over it. I know from going to church, so many years that there are sinners, and substance abusers and people who have struggled, who have made it through. So if I could hold on to God’s unchanging hands, I was going to make it out of this. However, I needed help in order to do so it was beyond my capabilities to do it on my own. And reading the Bible alone wasn’t helping. My bible teaches me faith, without works is dead.

Nikita Banks, LCSW  13:23  

So as you’ve heard me say,

Nikita Banks, LCSW  13:24  

time and time again on this show,

Nikita Banks, LCSW  13:28  

I usually use the scripture Faith without works is dead. When I am attempting to explain to people in the church, why it is necessary for us to go to those who have the skills necessary to help with our physical, mental and emotional development, and allow Jesus God, the Bible, and whatever your religious affiliation is to take care of the spiritual part of your body. As as ways to counteract the negative impact people think when you express that you have to go to therapy, to do your mental and emotional healing, that I’m saying something against the Bible for some reason. So I’m gonna take it right back to the book of James 14 to 26. And I’m going to actually read it directly from the Bible, gnosis New King James Version, I’m on Bible gateway calm because it was too much work for me to take down my grandma with this Bible that I have in my home right now, to make this point to you, but I’m going to just say the scripture right now, what does it profit my brother in if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is making a destitute of daily food, and one of you say to him, depart in peace, be warmed and fed, but you do not get give him the things which are needed for the body? What does it profit does also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Nikita Banks, LCSW  15:12  

So I read

Nikita Banks, LCSW  15:13  

scripture 14, to 17, just now, but I’m going to stop right there. What this scripture is saying to me, and you can read it your own self, as I gave you the Scripture, but what they say to me is that we are made both of spirit and physical. Right? our spiritual body, and our emotional body, as well as our physical body,

Nikita Banks, LCSW  15:44  

have dominion

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over

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our wellness. And you can’t just tell somebody to feel better, without giving them the tools and the resources that it takes to allow them to feel better.

Nikita Banks, LCSW  16:00  

The relevant scripture again,

Nikita Banks, LCSW  16:03  

what does it profit my brother, man, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to him, depart in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body? We are human beings with human bodies. What does it profit does also faith by itself, it does not have works is dead. So, CASE CLOSED, but I’m going even a little bit further. Because in this scripture, the passage 14 to 26, I want to say it says Faith without works is dead about six times. At Bessemer, someone will say you have faith and I have works. Show me your faith without your works. I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God you do? Well, even the demons believe and tremble. But do you want to know Oh, foolish man that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by work when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that fakes was worth faith was working all together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect. By work. By works, faith was made perfect. For the body without the spirit is dead. So Faith without works is also dead. I skipped around a little bit because stuff this stuff about rehab rehab and harlots, and that’s not relevant right now. But read your Bible. I need you guys to read your own Bible. And stop just reiterating things that you think sound good, because it shame somebody else. But listen, has a way of shaming of the people. And I’m not allowing anything or anybody to come between me and my healing, because I know that the Lord that I serve is a healing God. And I don’t I don’t want to make this about religion. But since we talked about religion, I’m gonna make it about religion. The God that I serve does not want me to start

Nikita Banks, LCSW  18:18  

to suffer. needlessly.

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Prayer without works is dead. It was my face that kept me. But it was my therapist who saved me and I might get back, I might get bad mail, I might get bad now, I might get bad mail. But I’ma tell you what this is. It was my therapist who saved me. Now when I say he saved me that doesn’t make him my Savior. That means that God works through us on Earth, we only understand what we can based on the limitations and the constraints of the the form that we are in. So because I am a human being, he had to sin help in the form of my dad, in the form that my human understanding would process. And therefore he sent me a therapist in order to help me get my mental health in order. My mother didn’t have the answers. My friend didn’t have the answers. I didn’t go to my pastor, but I’m pretty sure because I know him. a pastor, the moment he did not have the answers, we have to start not shaming people, for their experiences. And the church has a way of shaming people for their experiences. And that is why a lot of people are moving away from organized religion, I said it.

Nikita Banks, LCSW  19:42  

Because as long as you’re putting whatever you’re putting in the collection plate on Sunday, and I’m stepping on toes, but I don’t care. As long as you’re putting whatever you’re putting in the collection place on paper collection plates one Sunday, sometimes they don’t seem to care about your day to day, weekly struggles. And there’s something that you can do about that you can proactively start reading your own Bible and interpreting it the best way that you possibly can to apply it in your life in ways that make your life better. My God, and no matter whatever you call us, but my God does not want me to suffer needlessly, and for no reason. Hear what I say. I said, My God does not want me to suffer needlessly, and for no reason. And when I say needlessly, I mean, he does not want me to suffer, if I don’t have to, my God, the God I serve, does not want me to suffer if I don’t have to. And just not having the skills, just not having the skills to do something is not a reason to suffer. You go and speak to somebody who has the capacity to teach you what you don’t know. And you don’t know what you don’t know. And you can’t be responsible for the things that you don’t know. But you will suffer for the things that you don’t know, I can tell you that you will suffer for not being able or not being active or not taking the the initiative to say you need help and invest in your education therapy for me was me investing in myself study, I needed it. And the I don’t know where I would be without it. I know where I was before I got it. I know life was bleak. I know some days I didn’t want to be here. It’s painful to say that. But I know some days I didn’t want to be here, if it wasn’t for my son. And if it wasn’t for my faith that kept me and I knew that God was going to send me the answer. When I was praying for the answer. He sent me my voice that took me to my PCP primary care physician and stated I am very sad and cannot get out of the bed and I need to see someone, she gave me a referral to a therapist. And that is when life started to open up. For me, that’s when I was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m gonna be honest with you some days, I didn’t know whether it was a train was the opening. But I still went. And that is what my faith did. And that’s what my belief in God did. But he sent me help. So as the ladies kept going on and kept going on, I decided that I was going to tell a story and then get off of it. So I’m going to tell this story. And then I’m gonna get off the here. But years ago, a friend of mine Her name is Sibel panics and anybody in the music industry knows Big Mama save shout out was Biggie Biggie day where Biggie month. So as I’m a Brooklyn girl till I die, so mama saved told me a story about health. And she told me that there was a man who jumped in the ocean, because he had faith in God that God would save him. Now homeboy could not swim, a lick cannot swim a bit. But he said, I am going to jump into the ocean. Because I know that my god and the God that I serve is a mighty God and he is going to save me. And what ended up happening was few minutes after being in a water, he panicked, and he was flailing around, and he didn’t know what he was doing. And the people on the show said, Oh, my gosh, I see that guy. He’s out there. He’s drowning, and a swimmer jumped in. And he came, and he was going to save the guy and the guy got close, he got close to the guy. And the guy said, No, no, no, I don’t need your help. Because my God is going to save me.

Nikita Banks, LCSW  23:39  

I have faith in the Lord. I am a faithful servant in God, and he’s going to save me. So the guy was like, are you sure you don’t want save? Nope, nope, nope. My God saved me sort of got swimmer. He went back a few minutes later, a man came by in a fishing boat, seen him he said, Hey, I could pull you on the boat. If you want to be saved, I can pull you in. And he said, No, I trust God Get away from me. I know, I don’t want to help. Because God is going to save me. I’m a faithful servant in my Lord. And God is going to come save me and the guy says, Are you sure? And he’s I’m positive get on out of here. And he got on it. And then an ocean liner came by big Oh shit. Carnival Cruise came by? And they seen him and they the captain yell down, Hey, are you drowning? I can save you. I’m going to throw down the life vest. And the guy said, No, no, no, I don’t need your help. I trust God, God is my Savior. He is going to save me. And then the man drowns. Right, and he gets up goes up to the pearly gates, I don’t know, whatever you you believe in. He goes, he sees the Lord, Lord is there he said, Lord, I jumped in the ocean, I trusted that you were going to save me. I don’t understand why you would allow me to die. Why would you allow me to that I am a faithful servant. I try believed in you, I jumped into the ocean because I knew that you are mighty God, I serve. And you will want to save me and the God that I serve said to him. I tried three times to save you. I sent you a swimmer. I sent the fishermen. And I sent the captain of the ocean Lana, and you told them no. Sometimes we have to recognize and realize that we don’t get to choose the form that the Lord since our help in many times, oftentimes, we refuse to accept the existing help. Because it It comes in the form of something that we don’t like, like mandated counseling, or ACS worker or someone in public assistance. Someone we add reactive services, someone that you’re going to see to get your SSI check was someone that comes to see you on hospital ward, to discharge you some of the work that I do, we look at the form in which it comes in package, the brown paper wrapping. And we say that this is not the gift that I want. Without even opening it. We have to remain open, to receive whatever help comes to us in the form that it comes in. And we have to pray not so much for just deliverance, but pray for discernment, to be able to identify the help that God sends us when he sends us. Now I don’t want to preach, but it’s Sunday. It’s Sunday, I’m recording the show on Sunday. I don’t know when y’all gonna listen to it. But this is Sunday, and I’m recording the show. And so on this day, what I will pray for for all of us is the help and healing that we deserve. And all to come into our lives and get us to where we need to be on this journey. And I hope that this has been a blessing to you as much so as it has been to the countless people who were able to listen to my life the other night, and that’s why I was inspired to do to do this show today. They really have a show plans cuz I am cuz I’m so glad I didn’t really have a show planned because I intense I intended on taking some time off to develop our mental health course that I have coming up, it’s going to be a paid course, is going to be opportunities for you to be able to work with me, I’m going to be doing some events around the course, if you are interested in signing up to the mailing list to get information about the paid course and the E book that will go with the course is launching in April. But if you would like to take the course that I am discussing today in the course that I’m offering right now that is FRE free 99 on our website, contact me at Nikita NIKITA Banks. com I hope y’all know how to spell my name by now as well as black therapists podcast. com, you can sign on to either mailing list, the emails are the same. And I will be able to respond to you or you can shoot me an email at Black therapist podcast at gmail. com. If you live in Brooklyn, New York area and you are looking for a therapist, My office is in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, you can contact me at Nikita Banks LCS w at gmail. com, as well as to my website, you can you can also contact me through the contact form on Nikita Banks calm for appointments, we are expanding hours, my little baby is growing. So I’m looking forward to being able to offer more hours and service more clients in my community. And I’m doing some more online coaching is well in online work. So if you are interested in any of that stuff, just contact me but I I don’t care if it’s me, I don’t care if it’s not me, I don’t care if you have to call me to ask me to send you to somebody who ain’t me, make sure that you contact me. So that I could be a resource for you. What I would like to do is try to normalize therapy, and a therapeutic experience for black people of color. There’s so many things that we don’t know, we are behind the eight ball with with so much information. And there are so many challenges and stresses that we’re going to have in our lab that are going to be beyond our skill set and capability. And in order to be healthy and happy. You have to do your work on yourself. And if you are out there and you are listening to the sound of my voice and you are in the throes of struggling, please do what you can to hold on,

Nikita Banks, LCSW  29:47  

lift your voice

Nikita Banks, LCSW  29:49  

and be able to ask the proper people for help. I thank God that not only did I tell my mother, I was depressed and my friend I was depressed. I told my doctor I was depressed. I had to speak to the people who knew who were in power to be able to assist me sometimes we ask for help from the people that are around us. And they are not enough. They don’t have it. You know, you asked us like me going somebody coming to me asking me for $2 million? Like I ain’t got it. So why don’t you go to a bank. And while you’re at it wants you to make yourself attractive enough to be in the bank hapa to have your credit together. How about you, you have you know, you have your paperwork together. So sometimes you just have to be able to prepare yourself mentally. And prepare yourself to ask the proper people for the assistance that you need and the people that you know could actually facilitate that for you. And I if I’m going to be a resource or if you need me to be a resource for you, I can but if you’re also looking for therapy in our free course we talked about seven ways to find yourself a therapist including some from three ways. Okay, so thank you guys for listening once again, be Well, you’ve listened to another episode of The Black therapist podcast. Once again, I’m your host, Nikita Banks, licensed clinical social worker, and this is black therapists podcast formerly black in therapy. If you are looking for any information, any resources about today’s show, or if you just want to drop a line and say hey, and subscribe to our mailing lists. You can do so at our website, black therapists podcast com, you can send us emails at Black therapist podcast at gmail. com and if you enjoyed what you heard today, please like comment, share and subscribe because you want the show to grow as organically as we possibly can. And we cannot do that without you. Thank you for listening be well.

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