Tony Rossi, Director of Communications
May 22, 2022
Christian Singer Finds Road to Better Mental Health
Grammy Award-winning Christian singer Mandisa has achieved a great deal of success in her life, but
she has also endured a lot of trauma that left her feeling betrayed by God. It was only in recent years
that Mandisa found the support and courage to get help for her mental health struggles and move
toward peace and healing. We recently discussed her new memoir, “Out of the Dark,” on “Christopher
Closeup.” And since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it seems timely to share her story here.
During her teenage years, Mandisa experienced a major trauma: she was raped. She recalled that as her assailant sexually abused her, he kept telling her, “You’re so beautiful.” That led Mandisa to equate “beauty” with “danger” and find solace in food, which played a role in her weight struggles throughout her life. And instead of dealing with the trauma, she suppressed it and tried to move forward.
In the ensuing years, Mandisa became a contestant on Season 5 of “American Idol,” after which her career soared as she scored hits on the Christian charts, such as “Good Morning,” “Stronger,” and “Overcomer.” She also engaged in a public weight loss journey that led her to shed 100 pounds. But a personal tragedy would soon knock Mandisa off her foundation into a dark night of the soul. When her close friend and backup singer, Lakisha Mitchell, was diagnosed with breast cancer, Mandisa firmly believed that God would ultimately save her life. Unfortunately, Lakisha passed away in 2014 at age 40, leaving Mandisa feeling betrayed by God. She recalled, “It made me start to question God’s goodness and even His existence.”
Mandisa isolated herself from her friends for an extended period of time, finding solace in TV and food. She regained the 100 pounds she had lost—and even more on top of them. Doubts continued to plague her, adding to the unresolved traumas already in her past, and she slowly came to believe “the whispering lie” about God’s existence, noting, “If you ignore it for long enough, it starts to grow deeper and deeper. And I shut myself off from everyone who loved me. That is a breeding ground for a dangerous position.”
That dangerous position involved suicidal feelings. Thankfully, before Mandisa acted on them, her friends staged a coordinated intervention, reminiscent of the friends in the Bible who lifted the roof off of a house in order to get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus. The intervention led Mandisa to finally seek out help and healing.
She said, “I went to counseling as a result of their intervention. And who knew that talking about these things, it’s actually good and healthy for you? It’s not a sign of weakness. In the same way that if you have a physical ailment, you would go and see a doctor, I’ve come to appreciate counselors. These are professionals to help you deal with some things that are easy to sweep under the rug…I want to de-stigmatize counselors and therapists in the body of Christ, particularly. Because I sometimes hear the phrase, ‘Well, I’ve got God and that’s enough for me.’ It’s a little bit of a red flag for me, because I feel like He’s made us for community. So, if you can have somebody come alongside you in your journey, a professional and even my friends, [that’s good]…So, through my counseling journey, which has continued, it’s helping me to talk about difficult issues…that I’m forcing myself to face.”