It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This organization offers a wealth of information that can be of use to pastors and churches, in addition to offering resources for those who are facing symptoms of mental illness. On October 5, they are offering a free mental health screening at HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org.
Pastors and ministry leaders can check out NAMI’s website for links to amazing resources and ideas for participating in the work of advocacy. You could take the Stigma Free pledge as a church body, encourage your parishioners to share their stories, distribute fact sheets about mental illness on a Sunday morning, or offer use of the church facilities to a NAMI chapter meeting.
If you are looking specifically for Christian resources about mental illness to use with your congregation, you’will love On Edge: Mental Illness in the Christian Context along with its companion Leader’s Guide. You can lead an 8-week Sunday school class or small group about mental illness simply by following the detailed instructions in the curriculum.
Mental health advocacy does not have to be hard. It starts with one person. One voice is all it takes to say, “I’m stigma free.” Will you lead the way in your church? Pastors, will you lead the way in your communities? Jesus devoted a lot of his time to hanging around with marginalized people. Those who have mental illness face not only their symptoms, but also judgment and shaming. Let’s not let that happen in our churches and communities. Let’s love and advocate for those who need support.