Monday, September 27, 2010

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Few things are sadder than mental illness. With it comes a stigma that results in alienation, rejection, misunderstanding and despair. It is more common than people think, with one in five Americans suffering from some form of mental illness. Most churches are ill prepared to welcome people with mental illness and some are outright unfriendly and fearful. Mental Illness Awareness Week is Oct. 3-9 with the National Day of Prayer for Mental illness, Recovery and Understanding on October 5th. There are some excellent resources available on line at

Check out this website and learn how you can become a caring congregation through education, commitment, intentional welcoming and support. It also has a self administered test that helps you determine if you or a family member is suffering from depression. Resources for ministries with veterans are on this website as well. As Veteran’s Day nears (November 11) we need to remember the many veterans who are suffering as a result of service to our country.

How can your church be a more welcoming place and promote mental health for all?

1 comment:

  1. I was ordained a Deacon in the Detroit Annual Conference in 1979 after my first year of seminary at Perkins. That Fall, I was raped by another seminarian. because it was 1979, I was pretty much blamed for the incident and received no help. I had issues stemming from my childhood anyway (I have Aspbergers Syndrome and my father was an alcoholic, died when I was 8 and had two more alcoholic stepfathers) and I eneded up leaving the ministry in 1983. In 1996 I had neurosurgery to remove a tangle of veins that could have caused a stroke if left untreated. However, I had a major seizure due to brain swelling. At the time I had been in the process of returning to the ministry. That was then denied. I suffered a psychotic break over the next several years and required several hospitalizations. My pastor came to see me - once and refused to allow former pastors to come to visit even when that would have been helpful. Once I was released and returned to my home church, which I had called home since a teen ager, I was treated like a pariah. No one came near me. I realized they didn't know what to say but it hurt very deeply. To this day I cannot walk into a church. All someone needed to say was, "Welcome home."