About Mental Illness

As the body of Christ, when one is affected, we are all affected. Mental health is a significant part of our everyday lives, our communities, our churches. Awareness of how mental illness affects us and our loved ones or those to whom we minister can help us facilitate empathic and effective responses to protect and preserve wellness—mind, body and spirit. Here are several resources that are places to start.

Mental health resource guide for faith leaders: https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Psychiatrists/Cultural-Competency/Mental_Health_Guide_Tool_Kit_2018.pdf

Clergy in the front lines of opioid epidemic:

https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2019/05/21/opioid-crisis-demands-new-solution-churches-are-hoping-be-part-it

https://www.addictionandfaithconference.com

Curated list of mental health conditions outlined by the American Psychiatric Association, helpful for those needing information about issues and disorders: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families

Some myths and facts about mental illness: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts

National hotline—how to help yourself of someone you know who is struggling: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

What is depression and how can I help? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20045943

What is anxiety and how can I help? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/symptoms-causes/syc-20350961

What is PTSD and how can I help? https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/expert-answers/post-traumatic-stress/faq-20057756

Great resource that includes curated book lists on all types of topics to help increase awareness, reduce stigma and grow empathy: https://www.goodreads.com/list/tag/mental-health

What is suicide? Some myths: https://www.who.int/mental_health/suicide-prevention/myths.pdf

Suicide prevention is a social justice issue: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2017/Suicide-Prevention-as-a-Social-Justice-Issue

Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-8255 or txt HOME to 741741

Burnout Prevention and Resiliency:

Burnout and compassion fatigue affects lots of people in the helping and healing professions, and clergy and others in ministerial positions can be at risk. Being aware of the symptoms of burnout as well as prevention strategies and resiliency training can be important steps to maintaining emotional health in an otherwise often challenging call.

Pastors Empowerment Project to prevent clergy burnout: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2016-44381-007

Study on preserving mental health of hospital chaplains https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3939980/#!po=1.25000

Predictors for chaplaincy burnout: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/29914321/

Burnout and Social Justice Advocacy: https://aca.digitellinc.com/aca/sessions/15843/view

Review of literature on clergy burnout and resiliency: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/154230501306700103?journalCode=pcca

Families of clergy persons experience specific and special stressors, but help is out there:

https://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/vistas/clergy-families-the-helpless-forgottens-cry-for-help.pdf?sfvrsn=1c17cd2b_11

Mental Health Ministries

Churches and faith communities can be ground zero when it comes to mental health and wellness issues in their communities. There is lots of great work being done out there in mental health ministries

around the country, and communities of faith have a unique position to improve awareness, educate and reduce stigma around mental illness.

Interfaith network for mental illness; includes those faith communities who have a mental health ministry: http://inmi.us

Excellent resource for clergy and faith institutions for updated research and focus on mental health and spirituality: https://www.nami.org/faithnet

Mental health ministry in faith communities: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4000587/

Faith communities matter in improving mental health outcomes:

https://www.rand.org/blog/rand-review/2019/01/faith-based-organizations-promote-well-being-in.html

https://academic.oup.com/her/article/26/6/1107/597282

Community Conversation discussion guide about mental health—great for discussion groups! https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma13-4764.pdf

Stigma remaining a barrier to proper and consistent care: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/supersurvivors/201808/the-tragedy-mental-illness-stigma

Stigma-reducing partnerships with faith communities are critical to help those who suffer from mental illness, their families, and their communities: https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/psychiatry-and-faith-community-leaders-kick-off-collaboration

Ways to fight mental illness stigma: https://www.nami.org/blogs/nami-blog/october-2017/9-ways-to-fight-mental-health-stigma

UCC and WISE congregations for mental health https://www.ucc.org/news_general_synod_a_wise_welcome_06292015

How faith and spirituality can benefit mental health: https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Living-with-a-Mental-Health-Condition/Faith-Spirituality

Dangers of Conversion Therapy, which remains legal in the majority of US states https://www.hrc.org/resources/the-lies-and-dangers-of-reparative-therapy

Supporting family and friends who have mental health struggles:

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/faith-community-leaders

Mental Wellness, Spiritual Practices and Faith

“The Dark Night is nothing but the ongoing relationship with the Divine.” –Gerald May, MD, The Dark Night of the Soul

When viewed as an adjunct to traditional therapy or used as a maintenance support for prevention efforts, the embodiment practices, peer support and connection that spiritual practices provide can be excellent sources of healing and support.

Centering prayer and depression: https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/article/centering-prayer-and-depression

Mindfulness and contemplative practices improving mental wellness: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28819790/

List of research on spiritually, mental health and the intersection of the two: https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Psychiatrists/Cultural-Competency/faith-mentalhealth-bibliography.pdf

Importance of including spirituality and faith as part of the health of the whole person: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705681/

Faith as a predictor for gratitude and its subsequent improvements in wellbeing https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2016/When-Looking-for-Happiness-Find-Gratitude

Spiritual direction as an adjunct to mental health treatment for “soul wholeness”: https://www.sdiworld.org/blog/spiritual-direction-movement-toward-soul-wholeness

Centering Prayer and Stress Reduction: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225551447_Centering_Prayer_as_a_Healing_Response_to_Everyday_Stress_A_Psychological_and_Spiritual_Process

Emma Higgs’ blog on Christian Church and Mental Illness: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/emmahiggs/2018/05/what-the-church-needs-to-know-about-mental-health/