Look to God: Ending the Mental Health Stigma & Doing the Impossible with Lauren Roskilly
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How Lauren’s battle with depression inspired her to help others who are dealing with mental illness and a mental health stigma that has existed for too long in many Christian circles
- What it means to practice Christian-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Why you might need more than just a book to really help your audience experience transformation
- Lauren’s story of miraculous healing
- Tips on battling doubt and feelings of inadequacy
- Lauren’s advice for the writer who’s been called by God to do something that feels impossible
Be sure to read all the way to the end for important information and links!
As Christians, we often feel that we need to put on a happy face no matter what. It feels as though, if we’re not happy all the time, then we’re not living in a way that pleases God. But is that really true? Is it okay to not be okay? And when we’re not really okay, what should we do?
Lauren Roskilly has experienced all of those same feelings and thoughts. And as a result of her own personal journey to overcome the mental health stigma and other hardships, she learned to embrace something that made a difference: Christian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It’s basically the idea that our thoughts and beliefs play a major role in our emotional state – so by changing the way we think, we can actually change the way we feel, with God’s help. Get ready for a powerful testimony, and some valuable tips on navigating the ups and downs of life.
Ending the Mental Health Stigma
Lauren says her passion comes from wanting to help people who are experiencing similar situations or mindsets as she once did. Having personally battled depression, self-harm, and feelings of uselessness and hopelessness, Lauren now has God-given tools and resources to help others struggling in the same way.
For Lauren, having a relationship with God prior to these experiences helped her get through the lowest, most desperate points. She describes one particular day when, at the end of her rope, she cried out to God and asked Him to either take her out of the world or help her in it. “I knew He was there,” she recalls, “but I just felt so distant from Him. It's almost like being in a tunnel or a valley, and you’ve just got a tiny speck of light at the end, but you can't quite reach it. You can't quite see it. But you know it's there. It's kind of like that.”
Lauren’s story brings out a very important point: our relationship with God doesn’t mean we don’t have dark days, struggles, or moments when we come to the very end of our rope and just want to say, “I’m done.” Unfortunately, in some circles, that’s almost taboo to admit. There’s a belief that if you’re feeling this way, your faith may not be strong enough. But that mental health stigma isn’t rooted in truth, and it’s important for us to dispel the myths and let people know they’re not alone in their struggles.
Instead of pretending we or others don’t have dark thoughts or mental health struggles – instead of making people feel like something is wrong with them for having these thoughts and feelings – we should instead make sure people are able to take those emotions to the right place, and get the help they really need.
You’re Not Alone
Lauren’s mission to end the mental health stigma and help people who suffer the same way she did has led her to create safe, supportive communities for people to connect, share their stories, and ask for prayer. Her Facebook group, Mindful of Christ- Improving Mental Health, is a place for Christians struggling with things like depression to come together and know that they’re not alone. That it’s okay not to be okay.
“When I was in that place, and people used to say, ‘How are you?’ my answer was, ‘I'm fine,’” Lauren explains. “And that wasn't the truth. But I felt like I had to say that because I didn't want people to think that my faith wasn't strong enough.”
She adds that sometimes this mental health stigma and sense of shame does come from other Christians, but other times it stems from a belief in one’s own mind. Either way, she wants her audience to know that she’s been there, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
That is the power of Facebook communities. People are on the platform anyway, and now they have a safe place to go and be encouraged, and to hear that they’re not alone. Even if they don’t feel they can talk to the people around them, being part of a Facebook community with other people who are walking the same journey and having the same struggles can make a huge difference.
Christian-based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Another important component of Lauren’s online community was also the subject of her first book: Christian-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of therapy that focuses on mindset. The point is to turn negative mindsets around into positive ones, so you can move past ways of thinking that are limiting your growth or stopping you from moving forward.
Christian-based CBT, then, does the same thing, while keeping God as the focal point. Lauren’s book, which she likens to a course rather than a traditional book format, has eight sections, each of which includes prayer, CBT techniques and other tools, reflection questions, and scriptures to meditate on, as well as space for journaling.
While anyone can go through the book at their own pace, Lauren also offers coaching for support and accountability, where she helps her clients review and pray about what they’ve written each week. “By reviewing, they’re speaking out loud what they've written, and nine times out of ten, they're coming up with other stuff as well, which they weren't aware of, or other things that need addressing. And then we can pray about that, and perhaps talk about that as well.”
And not only is Lauren able to take her own training and experiences and guide people step-by-step through what they need to do to transform their minds, but she’s also able to take secular terms like “meditation” and “mindfulness” and apply them to believers in a God-honoring way.
Maybe you, like Lauren, have written a book that is designed to help people transform, whether that be by fighting against the mental health stigma, doing away with negative mindsets, or undergoing some other kind of transformation. If so, consider how you can take the next step to walk alongside your readers and help make sure they get the full benefit.
And, as Lauren’s experience shows, adding that extra step – like one-on-one coaching – is also a great way to create an additional income stream as you help people get the results they need.
Don’t Just Listen – Obey
Lauren’s path to where she is now wasn’t all that straightforward. It started with submitting control of her life to God and deciding to focus more on her relationship with Him, but it still took her some time to learn that she needed to actively respond to God’s call.
“I was born again Christian for 16 years,” Lauren says. “It took me 14 years to actually do what I was told. So it's not just about making efforts to pray to Him; it's about listening to him. And it's not just about listening to him; it's about acting on what He's telling us to do.”
For Lauren, acting on what God was telling her to do meant pushing on several doors until one – coaching, and then speaking – opened up in front of her. And as she has continued to follow God, she has experienced instances of miraculous healing.
At one point, a medical condition Lauren had dealt with since she was 14 years old kept her so ill that she could barely leave the house for more than three years. Lauren explains that this illness was what had caused her depression, and that at times it even kept her from being able to sit up without passing out.
In the midst of dealing with this illness, Lauren was able to start doing podcast interviews and speaking at various summits and other engagements. Still, when the opportunity appeared for her to speak in person at an event in London, Lauren was skeptical. She didn’t see how it could be possible.
But while praying about it, she heard God telling her to do it. Further confirmation came in the form of a prophecy from a woman who was interviewing her. And then, after Lauren spoke up during a group coaching call to ask for prayer, she had her breakthrough: “For the first time in 24 years, I declared in my heart that God was going to heal me.” From then on, Lauren started getting more confident and going out with family – and even on her own with a wheelchair.
Obedience Creates Opportunity & Healing
Then, not long ago, a conversation with another woman on a bus changed everything. After Lauren explained her condition and that she was a Christian, the woman asked a simple question: “You know it’s finished, right?” Referring to the work of Jesus on the cross, the woman told Lauren that it was done – and she didn’t need her wheelchair anymore.
Lauren knew this had to be a word directly from God. “As Christians, we know that if God's saying something, we need to say it,” she reasons. “But in the world, you don't go up to a stranger with a wheelchair and say, ‘You don't need that anymore.’ So it was a clear-cut sign from God to tell me that I've been healed. So I've been going out for walks this last week, and I'm just praising and thanking God, and I haven't stopped sharing.”
If you’re up against what feels like an impossible situation, something you’ve dealt with for so long it seems impossible for it to change, let Lauren’s story restore your hope. No matter how long it’s been, no matter how dire it seems, no matter what mental health stigma or opposition you face, no matter how much your brain is telling you that it’s not possible for it to be done, God can in fact turn that situation around. All you have to do is be open to it.
Lauren’s story teaches us that obedience often creates opportunity. So if you want more opportunity, you’ve got to be obedient to what God is calling you to do, even if you’re wrestling with doubt and can’t see how those opportunities could be possible.
Lauren says the key to battling these doubts is to really listen, to be in tune with the Holy Spirit, and put your complete trust in Him. “I’d had that condition for 24 years,” Lauren reminds us. “When we pray, and we ask God for healing, or we're asking God to shift things or move things or do something, He's going to say one of three things. It's going to be ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Wait.’ So we've just got to keep that trust. We've got to keep trusting in His timing.”
A Foundation for Indestructible Faith
And part of trusting God’s timing means trusting that His word is good – that He’ll keep the promises He’s made. “If we’re believing in Him, and we believe in the word of God, we need to believe all of it,” Lauren says. “And the way to do that is through repetition, meditation, and biblical declarations.” By repeating scriptures, we can train ourselves to remember God’s promises and to transform from simply knowing them to really, truly believing them.
Because she believes so strongly in the importance of meditating on scripture, she’s designed her latest project, Indestructible Faith- Prayers & Prompts for Journaling, to help her readers explore what scripture means to them, so they can withstand the storms and difficulties of life with a strong foundation of faith.
Referring to Jesus’ parable about the wise man who built his house on a rock, Lauren invites us to imagine the scene: “You're in that house, and it's storming outside. The winds are battering against the window, the lights are flickering, and it's pretty horrendous out there. But you’re sat on the sofa in a cozy lounge, maybe the fire’s going. But the most important thing is that Jesus is sat there right next to you, and you’re at complete peace. And that's the whole core.”
Lauren wants her readers to remember that no matter what storms are raging outside, we can still experience God’s peace in the midst of it all.
Step Off the Boat
Maybe you’re facing a situation that feels impossible. Maybe you’re not looking for help because of a mental health stigma. Maybe you want to get your book out, but you just don’t know if you can do it. Or maybe you have a book out, and God is telling you that it’s time to do more with it, but you don’t feel ready to work with people one-on-one.
Whatever the case, Lauren wants to remind you that with God, all things are possible according to His will. However, we have free will of our own, so it’s up to you to be obedient and do what you know God is calling you to do.
The first step is to really listen to God – and then it’s time to obey. “You do have a purpose,” Lauren says in closing. “And God’s got plans for you. And it's up to each of us to listen to Him, and work out what those plans are if you don't know them already. And if you do know, then perhaps it's time to step off the boat.”
Lauren is a mum of two beautiful children. She has a BA Hons in Health and social care and also a diploma in CBT. Lauren became a born-again Christian in 2004. She is transparent about her past with mental health, depression, anxiety and self-harm. But through God she learnt to refocus from the negative and towards Christ. She practices being mindful of Him, thus the name of her blog ‘Mindful of Christ’. She is the author of ‘Christian Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’ and her most recent publication, ‘Indestructible Faith- Prayers & Prompts for Journaling,’ and has co-authored three books, too, including the number one bestseller ‘Worship in the Wilderness: Let praise lead the way.’ As an accredited Christian Life Coach and a speaker, she helps people to recognise & overcome limiting beliefs and negative mindsets and helps them to discover and step into their God given purpose. She has spoken in churches and across the globe on podcasts and television including Passion TV Network and Elevation TV Network.