May is Mental Health Month
These resources are available as PDFs at the bottom of the page.
Ten Actions Every Parish Can Take to Reach Out to Persons with Mental Illness and their Families
- Listen with compassion
- Believe in Recovery and support it
- Visit at home, in the hospital and in jail
- Include in prayers of the faithful
- Specifically include mental illness when inviting parishioners to a healing service.
- Invite parish groups to have speakers on mental illness at their meetings especially consider Peer Support Specialists if available
- Invite persons with mental illness who live in group homes or apartments near your parish to worship and social events and have a plan to make all feel welcomed.
- Learn about local mental health systems , invite someone from there to speak to the parish staff or group of churches.
- Include parents, siblings, spouses and children in your pastoral care, they are hurting too
- Learn how and where to make a referral for help.
Ten Facts Parish Leaders
Should Know About Mental Illness
- Mental Illness is a disease of the brain and is not a moral issue
- One in four families are directly affected by mental illness If you don’t encounter persons or families dealing with mental illness in your parish then, they are either hiding (often in plain sight)or feel unwelcome. What you see is often the tip of the iceberg
- Stigma isolates people, and sometimes kills both body and soul
- The symptoms of mental illness vary in intensity and over time and so should support. Each situation is unique.
- The public mental health system is at or above capacity, this is why it’s important to help people find help.
- Many persons with serious and persistent mental illness do not know they are sick and think their behavior and beliefs are normal
- Persons with mental illness are more likely to be harmed than to do harm.
- Mental illness if often linked with alcoholism and substance abuse
- Poverty and underemployment is pervasive among persons with mental illness. Many of the problems of persons with serious mental illness has more to do with their poverty than their disease
- Understand the importance of making and keeping good boundaries
Prayers of the Faithful
For persons with a mental illness, and their families to find effective treatment for their illness and understanding and acceptance from others, we pray to the Lord.
For families who strive to understand and help their loved ones with mental illness, we pray to the Lord.
For people who live on the streets without homes or hope, we pray to the Lord.
For people with mental illness who are confined in jails and prisons, we pray to the Lord.
In thanksgiving for the compassion and dedication of mental health professionals and those providing care, we pray to the Lord.
For our elected officials to come to an understanding of the need for increased funding for mental health care, we pray to the Lord.
That the darkness of stigma, labels, exclusion and marginalization might be dispelled by the light of greater understanding, acceptance and respect for the dignity of every person, we pray to the Lord.
For each of us to reach out with support as we form a caring community, we pray to the Lord.
Each Day . . .
I will recall that I am a child of God. I am one who is created out of Love. I am chosen, good, holy and have purpose...a task to perform here on earth before I return to the Father. I deserve to be treated as a person who has value and dignity.
I will embrace my illness or my family member‘s illness as a friend this day looking for what it is teaching me about the mystery of God and life.
I will not allow the stigma of mental illness to defeat me this day. I will choose to have power over stigma by detaching myself from the stigma.
I will talk to someone today who will encourage me to see my goodness and holiness as a child of God. Maybe we will share a prayer together for one another.
I will look for humor and reasons to laugh and be happy. Quiet joy will be my goal.
I will read a passage from Scripture or something from a book of devotion, inspiration or spiritual reading that will encourage me to trust and hope in the power and love of God.
I will seek twenty minutes of solitude, silence, prayer this day. If my mind won‘t quiet down, if my thoughts keep racing, I will offer that as my prayer to God. If necessary and helpful, I will listen to soothing instrumental music or inspirational/religious music to quiet me and remind me that God is present.
I will walk outdoors marveling at a sunrise, a sunset, the song of a bird, the soothing colors of nature...the serenity of green grass, a blue sky, the softness of the pastel-colored blossoms of Springtime and the peaceful waters of a river, lake or stream that ripple and flow. I will remind myself that everything in nature is a reflection of the Creator and pleases the Creator just as it is, and so do I just as I am.
I will delight in the knowledge that we are each created different because it is in our differences we make a more powerful and beautiful whole. We each reflect a different aspect of the mystery of life and God. Individually and together we are a Masterpiece!
In God is my hope and my joy. I will give honor, glory and praise to God knowing and trusting what God has in store for me. We do not seek or like suffering but our suffering can make us strong in many ways and more compassionate and loving to others...our brothers and sisters in the Lord.Knowing for sure that although I long for God, God‘s longing for me is even greater, I will rest in that knowledge this day. Reflection offered during a workshop on spirituality for people with mental illness by Rita Sebastian Lambert.