There has been a long and tragic disconnect between churches and mental health issues. I once spoke with a pastor who told me there was no mental illness in his parish. REALLY? In a church of 1,000 contributing members, there was no one who suffered from mental illness? The statistics show that one in four persons will experience a brain disorder sometime in their lifetime. Was he serious? What planet did he live on? Talk about being out of touch with his community!! Perhaps he was from the group that believes that mental illness is demon possession and not a physical illness of the brain. If so, it might be safer to shove mental illness under a rug rather than deal with messy demons!
If you are a church attendee, when was the last time you heard mental illness mentioned from the pulpit? Do you have a mental health team active in your church? Do you have faith support groups for people who suffer from mental illness? How about a support group for family members of the mentally ill? Probably not, right?
Several years ago, the National Alliance on Mental Illness recognized the importance of faith in the lives of the individuals whom they serve and their Faith-Net division was born. I have spoken with many long-time NAMI members who are not aware of the new NAMI Faith-Net initiative and I suppose most churches and other individuals are not aware of it either. The following article speaks of how one man is creating Faith Net awareness in his community. This is encouraging to those of us who want to be able connect our faith walk with the mental health struggles we cope with on a daily basis:
I think it’s time for church leaders to remove their heads from the pit of denial about mental illness!