Good Mental Health is important, but what does faith have to do with it? Alot!
All of us go through life experiences that challenge our mental health, but mental illnesses are more serious than the common ups and downs that most of us experience. Anxiety is the number one mental illness in America. Depression is number two.
With mental illness, the desire to be part of a faith community, to worship, to participate in outreach activities, even the desire to pray might fall away. Most people with a mental illness isolate and withdraw from normal activities. They feel hopeless and helpless, weighed down and shut down by the stigma attached to mental illness.
Mental Illness is an Illness just like Cancer
Just as there are many different kinds of cancer, there are many different kinds of mental illnesses.
Mental illness can creep up on us. Unrelieved grief can leave a person depressed and hopeless. Unrelieved stress can turn into an anxiety disorder.
If you have not experienced a mental health condition, no doubt you know someone who has. One out of five people have a diagnosable mental health condition in the United States. More than half of those people go without any treatment!
This means every church congregation in America has people who are living with a mental health condition. Family members suffer along with their loved one.
Mental Illness is an Invisible Epidemic
Medical treatment, which would include the right medical doctor, the right diagnosis and the right medication, is very effective in helping an individual make their way towards wellness. Therapy can help people cope and grow as they deal with the difficulties of mental health challenges. But there are other elements that can help restore wholeness as well. They are a trusting connection with others, a belief that change is possible and having hope to hold onto when the going gets rough.
Members of congregations can play a large part in supporting individuals who are living with mental illness. They can be trained to be companions during difficult times. They can be a source of hope.
When someone is feeling hopeless, a faithful companion or being a part of a faith community can remind that person that hope is still possible, and that life can be good again.
Mental Health Resources
The PowerPoint presentation, below, called “Bridges of Hope”can help raise awareness. There are also sample sermons, articles, and prayers for healing.
We are Available
Being a part of a caring congregation can provide spiritual support to all those affected by mental illness. NAMI CCNS would like to work with congregations, families, and individuals to get the word out that faith and hope can help. We can help your congregation support people impacted by mental health concerns who may be sitting in the same pew.