Ending Stigma Around Mental Illness In The Church
Written by Lydia D’Ross, Ordained Minister and Outreach Chaplain for RENEWAL at Brookhaven Hospital
The church can be the answer for mental illness through education, training and simple community support. Many churches do not understand mental illness and have contributed to stigma around mental illness and individuals dealing with symptoms of mental illness.
Prayer is an excellent tool, but is not the only source of how to engage with a church member who may be dealing with a mental illness. How do we get the body of Christ to learn about and understand mental illness? Simply put, start having conversations in your church. Start a mental health ministry. Provide community support and engagement around the topic of mental health and the importance of a healthy mind, body and spirit.
The church needs to break down mental illness stigma, and not provide superficial “spiritual answers” in order to address the broken hearted and instill hope. Many people who were brought up in a church setting, do not attend anymore because of feeling misunderstood. Feelings of shame, guilt and condemnation are often the reasons why so many have left the church today.
Kim Martinez, ordained Assemblies of God Pastor and writer for Ministry Today Magazine, says there is no easy answer for church goers who suffer from symptoms with mental illness or a mood disorder. This is why it is so important that church leaders remove the stigma from their congregation to better serve their community. It is a demonstration of God’s love and instills hope, instead of shunning people away.
Brookhaven Hospital’s Renewal Christian Care program is here to serve you. If you’re interested in starting a spiritual mental health support group in your church, please contact me, Lydia D’Ross, at 918.438.4257 for more information.