Faith and spirituality can be a very helpful component of someone’s recovery from mental illness. A place of worship is often a safe space for people where they can feel welcomed and have an instant sense of support and community. And for many individuals and families, faith plays a significant role in their recovery experience.
Churches, temples, mosques and faith communities reach 70% of the American population each month. In the United States, clergy outnumber psychiatrists by nearly 10 to one and are more equitably distributed geographically than health professionals.
The faith community can fight stigma by educating both youth and adult congregations. Families affected by mental illness are often challenged by some serious faith questions, as are others going through experiences that ask much of them. Educated faith communities can offer emotional, relational and spiritual counseling to persons touched by mental illness.
Education and awareness are valuable keys to shattering the silence and barriers that surround treatment. By dispelling myths, ignorance and fear, congregations liberate persons touched by mental illness to share their struggles, seek help, regain hope and set out on a new course toward recovery.
Recovery is possible. And faith communities can play a significant role in the healing process by bringing solace and a sense of wholeness
Suggested Awareness Activities for Faith Communities
- Download awareness banners, graphics, flyers and posters.
- Find sample social media messages and be sure to use hashtag #MIAW.
- Plan a candlelight vigil using service ideas from www.nami.org/faithnet.
- Encourage participation in the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding, that takes place the Tuesday, of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Explore the materials available for the National Day of Prayer in English or in Spanish.
- Offer and share prayers for healing and hope using ideas from other faith communities or create your own to fit your faith tradition.
- Plan a program inviting a NAMI In Our Own Voice speaker or mental health care provider. Visit www.nami.org/ioov.
- Share the tips for how to help a person with a mental illness with others in your faith community.
- Donate a book from the list to your congregation’s library; write a short review of it for your congregation’s October newsletter.
- Invite a health care provider or peer support specialist from a Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) facility to speak about posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and how congregations can support military families.
- Create a bulletin board featuring resources from your local NAMI Affiliate, such as brochures, fact sheets, lists of local mental health care providers or this bulletin insert.