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If I was to summarize the Baha’i quotes on mental illness, and try to put the ideas into my own words, this is what I’ve learned.

Mental disorders fall on a continuum from so mild as to be almost undetectable to very severe; some may improve or worsen over time and some people may suffer from more than one mental disorder or complicating medical condition at the same time:

As with many health conditions, mental disorders fall on a continuum from so mild as to be almost undetectable to very severe. The degree to which a particular individual’s conduct may be affected varies accordingly and may improve or worsen over time, depending on many factors. Some individuals may suffer from more than one mental disorder or a complicating general medical condition at the same time. (USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 13)

Substance abuse combined with mental illness may further disrupt brain chemistry and affect behavior:

Sometimes, in response to overwhelming trauma, individuals resort to substance abuse, which can complicate or exacerbate the problems. (USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 14)

Problems of personality disorder may be complicated by medical conditions, substance abuse and/or mental illness. (USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 14)

Furthermore, persons with mental disorders may have difficulties with substance abuse, which further disrupts brain chemistry and affects behavior.  (USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 13)

Personality disorders may interfere with proper functioning in personal, social and work relationships.

Personality disorders differ from personality change in their timing and the mode of their appearance. They are disturbances in character development that may interfere with proper functioning in personal, social and work relationships. (USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 14)

God alone knows the reasons for mental illness:

I beseech God to obtain prosperity unto thee in this world, to confer favour upon thee in His Supreme Kingdom, and to heal thee from the illness which has befallen thee for some hidden reason which no one knows save God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Art of Living, p. 59.)

It’s not true that only the spiritually ill experience psychiatric disorders:

The statement that ‘only the spiritually ill experience psychiatric disorders’ is entirely without foundation. (From a letter dated 2 February 1994 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual)

Mental illness can be caused by being without the love of God in our hearts:

With the love of God all sciences are accepted and beloved, but without it, are fruitless; nay, rather the cause of insanity.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v3, p. 687-688)

Or by trying to attack the Cause of God:

The worst enemies of the Cause are in the Cause and mention the name of God. We need not fear the enemies on the outside for such can be easily dealt with. But the enemies who call themselves friends and who persistently violate every fundamental law of love and unity, are difficult to be dealt with in this day, for the mercy of God is still great. But ere long this merciful door will be closed and such enemies will be attacked with a madness.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of The West, Vol.6, No.6, p.45)

It can be part of the polish God uses to draw us closer to Him.

Suffering, of one kind or another, seems to be the portion of man in this world. Even the Beloved ones, the Prophets of God, have never been exempt from the ills that are to be found in our world; poverty, disease, bereavement, -they seem to be part of the polish God employs to make us finer, and enable us to reflect more of His attributes! No doubt in the future, when the spiritualized, a vast amount of our present ills and problems will be remedied. We who toil now are paving the way for a far better world, and this knowledge must uphold and strengthen us through every trial.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 603)

Although emotionally and physically painful to be burdened with it at times, mental illness only affects our minds, and not our spirits or our soul.

But in this world such illness is truly a heavy burden to bear!  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 281)

It is very hard to be subject to any illness, particularly a mental one. However, we must always remember these illnesses have nothing to do with our spirit or our inner relation to God.   (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 281)

Though its effects might hinder us or be a burden in striving towards spiritual progress, still we know that our spirits are healthy and close to God, and that in the next world we’ll be free to enjoy a happy and normal state.

Mental illness is not spiritual, although its effects may indeed hinder and be a burden in one’s striving toward spiritual progress.   (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 284)

You must always remember, no matter how much you or your others may be afflicted with mental troubles and the crushing environment of these State Institutions, that your spirit is healthy, near to our Beloved, and will in the next world enjoy a happy and normal state of soul.   (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 281)

Treatment for mental illness, as for all diseases, consists of seeking the best medical advice you can find, even if it means travelling to a bigger city to find it, and then following it.

It is incumbent upon everyone to seek medical treatment and to follow the doctor’s instructions, for this is in compliance with the divine ordinance.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 155)

Regarding your question about methods of healing which involve temporarily re-experiencing or remembering events, these are complex medical matters and as stipulated in the Teachings, believers should seek the best medical advice which is available and follow it.  (Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

It is not easy to be burdened with long years of mental illness such as you describe. And plainly you have sought aid from many persons of scientific and non-scientific training backgrounds, apparently to little avail over the years of your prolonged illness. Possibly you should consider, if it is feasible, consulting the best specialists in a medical centre in one of the major cities, where the most advanced diagnosis and treatment can be obtained.   (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 283-284)

Psychiatric treatment is still a growing rather than a perfected science, and psychiatrists are not always wise or right, but even so, we need to avail ourselves of the best they have to offer.

There is nothing in our teachings about Freud and his method. Psychiatric treatment in general is no doubt an important contribution to medicine, but we must believe it is still a growing rather than a perfected science. As Bahá’u’lláh has urged us to avail ourselves of the help of good physicians Bahá’ís are certainly not only free to turn to psychiatry for assistance but should, when advisable, do so. This does not mean psychiatrists are always wise or always right, it means we are free to avail ourselves of the best medicine has to offer us.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 284)

The science of the mind, of normality and of the disabilities from which it may suffer, is in its relative infancy, but much may be possible to aid us to minimize our suffering and make it possible to live an active life.

The science of the mind, of normality and of the disabilities from which it may suffer, is in its relative infancy, but much may be possible to aid you to minimize your suffering and made possible an active life. The last ten years in the therapy of mental disorders has seen important advances from which you may well benefit.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 283-284)

Discovery of the Faith, with its healing have brought us a powerful force toward a healthy life which will sustain us on a higher level whatever our ailments may be:

Your discovery of the Faith, of its healing Writings and its great purposes for the individual and for all mankind, have indeed brought to you a powerful force toward a healthy life which will sustain you on a higher level, whatever your ailment may be. The best results for the healing process are to combine the spiritual with the physical, for it should be possible for you to overcome your illness through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined effort.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 283-284)

The best results for the healing process are to combine the spiritual with the physical, for it should be possible for you to overcome your illness through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined effort.

In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a believer there is this further passage: “Such hindrances (i.e. illness and outer difficulties), no matter how severe and insuperable they may at first seem, can and should be effectively overcome through the combined and sustained power of prayer and of determined and continued effort.”  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 284)

That effort can include the counsel of wise and experienced physicians, including psychiatrists. Working for the Faith, serving others who may need you, and giving of yourself can aid you in your struggle to overcome your sufferings. One helpful activity is, of course, striving to teach the Cause in spite of personal feelings of shortcomings, thus allowing the healing words of the Cause flood your mind with their grace and positive power.

 In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a believer there is this further passage: “That effort can include the counsel of wise and experienced physicians, including psychiatrists. Working for the Faith, serving others who may need you, and giving of yourself can aid you in your struggle to overcome your sufferings. One helpful activity is, of course, striving to teach the Cause in spite of personal feelings of shortcomings, thus allowing the healing words of the Cause flood your mind with their grace and positive power.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 284)

The Writings promise us that madness, incurable otherwise, can be cured through prayer:

Madness, incurable otherwise, can be cured through prayer.   (‘Abdul-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 281)

Spiritual feelings have a surprising effect on healing nervous ailments:

Spiritual feelings have a surprising effect on healing nervous ailments.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 150-151)

As the world becomes more spiritually minded and scientists understand the true nature of man, more humane and permanent cures for mental diseases will be found.

It is a great pity that as yet so little is really known of the mind, its workings and the illnesses that afflict it; no doubt, as the world becomes more spiritually minded and scientists understand the true nature of man, more humane and permanent cures for mental diseases will be found.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 281)

There are a great many as you know mental diseases and troubles at present, and the one thing Bahá’ís must not do is take a defeatist attitude toward them. The power in the Faith is such that it can sustain us on a much higher level in spite of whatever our ailments might be, than other people who are denied it.

There are a great many as you know mental diseases and troubles at present, and the one thing Bahá’ís must not do is take a defeatist attitude toward them. The power in the Faith is such that it can sustain us on a much higher level in spite of whatever our ailments might be, than other people who are denied it. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 284)

When trauma reactions are severe and go on for some time without treatment, they can cause major problems for the person and his or her family:

Because the symptoms of PTSD and other trauma reactions can impact how a trauma survivor feels and acts, traumatic experiences that happen to one member of a family affect everyone else in the family. When trauma reactions are severe and go on for some time without treatment, they can cause major problems for the person and his or her family. (USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 14)

Assemblies who have people in their communities whose mental health issues cause problems for them and for others, may wish to seek professional advice.

At any time, the Assembly may wish to seek professional advice for dealing with a believer who has been diagnosed with, or appears to suffer from, a personality disorder. (USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 14)

For More Information:

Additional advice and insight may be found in “Some Guidance for Spiritual Assemblies Related to Mental Illness and Its Treatment”, available through the American Bahá’í Distribution Service at (800) 999-9019.

The following forums deal with mental health issues:

Bahá’í Mental Health

Bahá’í and Mental Health:

Mental Illness and the Bahá’í Faith:

Yahoo Group:

These articles might also be of interest:

Account of 69 Years of My Experience With Bipolar Disorder:

Are Mental Disorders Diseases:

Bahá’ís using Drugs:

Bahá’í Association of Mental Health Professionals Position Paper on Mental Health:

Bi-Polar Disorder:

Borderline Personality Disorder:

How I Learned to Love the Mentally Ill:

Mental Health:

No Less Noble: Mental Illness, Addiction and the Soul:

On Maintaining Mental Health:

On Managing Depression:

Preliminary Analysis of the Baha’i Concept of Mental Health: