Role of Church & Faith
Persons with a mental illness have never been more visible in our congregations and communities or more in need of pastoral care than they are today. Improvements in mental health care and access to new drugs, treatments, and services help them live more productive lives. With proper support in place, these persons are able to live in the community, no longer confined to institutions for life.
Professionals who believe in holistic care see faith groups as one of these supports. Clergy need to educate themselves about mental illness so they can help their congregation provide appropriate support and friendship. Faith groups called to become Caring Congregations, who seek to educate themselves about mental illness, are surprised to find that congregational stigma has roots that go deep into the ancient history of the church.
For information on the history of the church and mental illness, as well as advice for welcoming these individuals to the church, follow this link: Ministry Matters: Welcoming Special Needs People to Church (This is also the source of the above text – used by permission)
How can the church help persons with mental illness?
Sciptures of Comfort
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More suggestions for clergy members and congregations can be found at the following links:
National Health Ministries
The Office of National Health Ministries (of Presbyeterian Church USA) seeks to enable and empower individual Presbyterians, congregations, presbyteries, and synods to understand serious mental illness and to be in ministry with persons and their families affected by this illness. This is done through the creation of educational resources, the providing of training programs, consultants, and start-up grants.
Mental Health Ministries
Mental Health Ministries is an ecumenical, interfaith outreach through the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder is the coordinator. The mission of Mental Health Ministries is to educate faith leaders and lay persons for the purpose of decreasing the stigma associated with mental illnesses in faith communities. Mental Health Ministries provides resources to help faith communities develop their own mental mental health programs.
The Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADNet)
Adnet was formed to provide encouragement and resources to congregations, families, and persons with disabilities as they identify and embrace their God-given gifts and abilities in ministry to each other and to the larger church. The network was formed by the Mennonite Church but provides helpful resources for all.