The mission of NAMI's FaithNet is to support people of all religious faiths in mental illness outreach, education and advocacy.
Surveys show that forty to sixty percent of Americans seeking help with mental health issues turn first to priests, ministers and rabbis. Unfortunately the response of clergy and congregations often falls short of what is expected from faith leaders. Individuals struggling with mental illness are significantly less likely to receive the same level of pastoral care as those in the hospital with physical illnesses or those who have long term illnesses. it is believed that one in four households in every faith community may have a person with mental illness over their lifetime. Because there is much fear, misunderstanding and stigma associated with illnesses that are considered "least acceptable," families, and in some instances, even pastors and leaders keep their struggle secret.
FaithNet - Caring Communities is developing and providing guidelines for how faith communities can provide care and support to people with mental illness and their families. The reasons that faith communities do not adequately meet the needs of the mentally ill and their families range from insufficient education in seminary schools to the fact that some faith groups have theologies that equate sin or weakness with mental illness instead of seeing them as biochemical illnesses of the brain. Also, congregations are made up of individuals who mirror the stigma and fear we find in society as a whole. Even when aware and well meaning, people may not know what to say or who to respond.
If you would like to arrange an informational, short presentation about FaithNet for leaders in your congregation please call Sam Chavez during business hours at 265-2925.
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For a slide show presentation on FaithNet Caring Communities, click on the highlighted file below:
FaithNet Caring Communities (PowerPoint)