Does Mental Illness Count? YES!

lonely-womanWe are frequently asked if Invisible Illness Week includes mental illness. Yes!

It’s invisible, right? While we would like to expand our resources for those living with mental illness, we do have few. Please feel free to email us more or articles you may have.

> Mental Illness Awareness Week is Oct 4-10, 2009
> See statistics here

HOW DOES “THE CHURCH” ADDRESS MENTAL ILLNESS?

Since NICIAW is sponsored by Rest Ministries a Christian organization, we want to also take a look at how mental illness is addressed by churches. Living with a mental illness, whether it’s bi-polar, schizophrenia, depression or one of the many other mental illnesses, it is a frustrating, experience that can leave one feeling somewhere between annoyed with themselves and life, to being suicidal.

Imagine turning to the church for encouragement and understanding and being told that if you “just prayed harder,” it would go away.

As our population continues to age, the faith community has become more proactive in finding ways to meet the growing needs of those who suffer from chronic conditions cause by aging and the body’s degeneration.

However, there is still a large attempt to educate the church about those who live with invisible illnesses, such as lupus or fibromyalgia, as well as the millions who live with mental illness.

Unfortunately, our churches are ill-equipped to reach out to this community of people because they basically don’t know how. But churches do not need to know everything about mental illness in order to create comforting and accepting place.

In a speech entitled, Stigma of Mental Illness: The Role of the Faith Community,” Gunnar Christiansen, M.D. presented at the 2003 NAMI Oregon Convention, he said, “Spiritual strength will diminish, however, unless it is constantly nurtured through giving and receiving loving care in our relationships with others. Thus it is of major importance that each of us attempt to develop a welcome and spiritually nourishing environment for those affected by mental illness in our own place of worship.”*

A variety of resources are available for those who live with mental illness and are looking for Christian support. We recommend the following:

Participate in National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Mental illness is an invisible illness and we are looking for more representatives to join us in spreading the word and educating others.

SECULAR RESOURCES
NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill)
National Mental Health Association is the country’s oldest
and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness
NARSAD The Mental Health Research Association by National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression,
The National Network of Adult and Adolescent children who have a Mentally Ill parent/s. Australian- but still great resources.
FAITH RESOURCES
National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI)”Faith Net” The
“religious” department of this organization which seeks to bring awareness to religious communities about mental illness facts.
Pathways to Promise is an interfaith technical assistance and resource center which offers liturgical and educational materials, program models, and networking information to promote a caring ministry with people with mental illness
and their families. These resources are used by people at all levels of faith group structures from local congregations to regional and national staff.
Mental Health Ministry Resources Books, tapes, resources, wonderful!
Mental Illness and Faith Communities Helping faith communities become caring congregations – excellent. Be sure to read the articles/brochures/inserts available.

*Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – National Mental Health Information Center – Article: Building Bridges: Mental Health Consumers and Members of Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Dialogue

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