Bishop Kenneth Ulmer Urges Leaders in the Black Community to Speak Up on Importance of Mental Health

Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, California, is urging leaders in the black community to speak up about the importance of mental health to a culture he says is “crippled” with fear. 

Ulmer, who also serves as presiding bishop of Macedonia Baptist Church Fellowship in Johannesburg, South Africa, said that many black men are facing mental health challenges today fueled by racial unrest, systemic racism, and police killings of George Floyd and other unarmed black people.

“I know very few men who don’t wince when they come to a red light or there’s a police car behind them,” he told The Christian Post. “There’s a fear of being misunderstood, harassed, or mishandled by the police. It’s very real.”

The influential author said he’s even encountered families who refuse to send their children to school — “not because of COVID but because of today’s climate and what seems to be the expendability of black men.”

“The nation is hurting and crippled with fear,” he said. “People don’t know what to do or where to turn. Radicals on both ends of the spectrum, both the left and right, have so infiltrated and contaminated the culture, that there is a real fear that now looms.”

But when “you zoom out to the faith community, you have another issue that’s even broader than this present fear.”

He explained that historically, there has been a mental health stigma in the black community. Mental issues are viewed as spiritual, rather than psychological, problems.

“It’s hush-hush in our culture. We’re more likely to pray about having a bad day than to realize you may be depressed and need professional help,” Ulmer said, adding he was a “grown man” before he heard terms like “bipolar” and “schizophrenia.”

“There’s an old song in the African tradition that says, ‘Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there,’” he said. “We feel as though we’ve done what we should do in response to what’s happened to us psychologically and emotionally when we pray about it. In other words, God’s going to take care of it.

“What we often fail to realize is that one of the ways that God heals us is through professionals. There are professionals who are instruments of God, who are anointed by God, who are gifted and trained by God to be the mediator of our healing and our getting better.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett

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