Ministering to the Mentally Ill and the emotionally Distraught
The magnitude of mental illness in this country is staggering. According to the Surgeon General, one in every five Americans experiences a mental disorder in any given year and half of all Americans have such disorders at some time in their lives. These illnesses of the brain affect all of us, regardless of age, gender, economic status or ethnicity. Nearly every person sitting in the pews has been touched in some way by mental illness. And yet individuals and families continue to suffer in silence or stop coming to their faith community because they are not receiving the support they so desperately need. They become detached from their faith community and their spirituality, which is an important source of healing, wholeness and hope in times of personal darkness. THERE IS HOPE!
The Church MUST remember these things about the mentally Ill:
Welcome the chronically mentally ill into the life of the local congregation. God CAN use the mentally ill, everyone has a divine purpose!
Support the families of the chronically mentally ill in ways that alleviate their heavy burdens of care. Often they are treated with equal distain.
Enhance the skills of congregational caregivers in their ministry to the chronically mentally ill.
Mental Illness is as much a disease as a physical illness; only in rare cases is demon possession the problem, mental illness can be genetic, from emotional trauma, or from a traumatic injury.
Our Ministry Arises Out of Our Faith:
We believe that all members of the human race, the chronically mentally ill not less than others, they have been redeemed by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We invite them into the fellowship of faith with us.
We believe that all people, including the chronically mentally ill, baptized into the community of faith, need to be nurtured by the Gospel within the framework of their special needs.
We recognize that the local congregation is a community of God's people, one of whose hallmarks is mutual care and support.
Facts About Mental Illness and Resources For Ministering to the Mentally Ill
Mental illness (brain disorders) strikes one in five families in the United States, according to estimates of the National Institutes of Mental Health। This estimate will tell you the probable number of mental illness cases in your church.
Ministry to the mentally ill is generally less intentional and consistent than care for physical illness। Remember mental illness can strike ANYONE at anytime!
It is not easy to read the thought world of the mentally ill when loose thought association moves the speaker from one subject to another without logical connection।
Delusions, inner voices, deep withdrawal can make conversation and relationships all but impossible.
Conventional spiritual care is on occasion distorted and disconnected from its Gospel content by the mentally ill person।
Communication is broken off; ministry and relationship, while desired, appear beyond reach.
In the absence of the new knowledge of mental illness as brain disease, older theories: the family's emotional climate, parental relationships, or inheritance persist।
The mentally ill are identified by their disease - he is a schizophrenic; she is manic-depressive--in the minds of congregation members. People do not recognize their talents, accomplishments, or the family name.