Dear Church: Mental Illness is not a Sin (Part 2)

Stop. If you haven't read Part 1 yet, please do.

And now, here's Part 2. Action Items. Aaaaand GO!

If you are a faith leader (or any human being, really) and feel a bit kerfuffled when you start thinking about mental health issues, keep reading.

  1. Utilize your resources. You have literally no excuse to remain ignorant. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) offers printed and digital publications on their website. The NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) is a fantastic source of educational information. TWLOHA (To Write Love On Her Arms) is a dedicated organization that targets millennials and hipsters alike. For acute situations, make use of the Suicide Prevention LifeLine or your local community Crisis Line. Pastor Rick Warren offers a Mental Health Resource Guide here. Best of all, these are all FREE.

  2. Don’t forget the family members. Family members are likely the ones acting as virtual case managers for the ill. It is exhausting, all-consuming, and non-rewarding. When you’re unsure of how to serve a mentally ill person, you can start by serving his or her support system.

  3. Educate, equip, and know when to refer out. Imagine a church that functions also as an educational institution: routinely offering Celebrate Recovery, FPU (Financial Peace University), parenting classes, job training, etc. These are life skills that enable success. However, when a person presents as psychotic, self-harming or suicidal, professional help is needed. Develop a network of trusted professionals as a referral source. When in doubt, refer out.

  4. Incorporate small elements into your children’s ministries. During childhood, the groundwork for a fully-functioning life of health is being laid. As ThriveMoms reminds us, “How you speak to your child becomes their inner voice.” Elements of behavioral therapies such as positive self-talk can be easily intertwined with the bread-and-butter stories of David and Goliath.

  5. Advocate in your local, state and federal government for funding and attention. How awesome would it be to see as part of our healthcare system: a free preventative mental health checkup in addition to the annual well-checkup now available through the Affordable Care Act? Who among your congregation has influences in political arenas

I would LOVE to invite you to contact me if you have any questions or if I can help steer you in any way. Feel free to email me at