Mental Illness and the Church Today

(The following is drawn from M. Stanford’s book, “Madness and Grace”.)

“Madness, or what today we call serious mental illness, has been part of the human experience throughout recorded history. (p. 1)
In the United States, one out of every five adults (48 million) will experience mental illness in a given year. Perhaps a more disturbing statistic is that almost 60% of adults diagnosed with a mental illness receive no treatment. (p. 3)
There are simply not enough mental health-care providers to meet the growing demand for care. . . . As a result of this lack, there are ten times more individuals with mental illness in our jails and prisons in psychiatric hospitals. Our emergency rooms have become de facto psychiatric crisis clinics. (p. 9)
Research over the last seven decades has consistently demonstrated the individuals in psychological distress are more likely to seek assistance from a member of the clergy before looking for help from a PCP or psychiatrist. This is especially true in minority groups. View through the eyes of faith, it is obvious that this is not an accident but rather a divine opportunity for the church to take the lead in caring for those affected by middle illness. (p. 10)
The primary purpose of this book is to equip pastors, ministry staff, and lay ministers to better serve and support those suffering with mental illness who won assistance from the church. (p. 11)
The scriptures teach us that we live in a fallen world. The presence of illness is simply one example of the creation’s brokenness. Mental illness, like all illness, is not the result of personal sin or a weak faith; rather, it is evidence that we desperately need the Savior who can heal our brokenness and make us whole. (p. 21)
Research shows that recovery in remission or possible for those with mental illness. . . . As a faithful leader, your job is not to “fix” those struggling with mental illness but simply to relieve their psychological suffering when possible while revealing the unconditional love and limitless grace that is available only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. (p. 30)
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In a recent LifeWay Research survey focusing on suicide in the church, almost a third (27 percent) of Protestant pastors reported a suicide connected with their church in the last year. (p. 75)
Suicide rates in the United States are on the rise, having increased more than 30% over the first two decades of the century. In 2018, over 48,000 people took their own lives. To put that number in perspective, they were more than twice as many suicides in the United States every year as there are homicides. (p. 76)
Research finds that talking openly about suicide actually reduces suicidal thoughts and leads to an overall improvement in the middle health of those seeking treatment. (p. 78)
The most important spiritual principle that you can encourage for those struggling with suicidal thoughts and behavior is hope. Hopelessness is intimately associated with suicidality. (p. 86)
As a pastoral counselor, you have the opportunity to help the council build a strong spiritual foundation for recovery. This is best done by focusing on what God has done for us rather than what we must do for him. Three therapeutically beneficial areas of pastoral care for those living with serious mental illness or Hope, identity, and purpose. (p. 125)
An estimated 8.4 million people in the United States provide some level of care for an adult living with a mental disorder. In addition, the vast majority of psychiatric inpatient or discharge to a family residence. (p. 135)
The role of caregiver is physically, mentally, and spiritually overwhelming for everyone. A caregiver is not weak if he feels burdened or wants to take a break; that is normal and expected. The caregiver’s life did not stop when his loved one was diagnosed with a mental illness. (p. 145)
While a majority of those living with serial mental illness and their family members believe that churches should talk more openly about millionaires, more than 60 percent of Protestant pastors report rarely or never speaking about the topic in sermons or large group meetings. (pp. 147-148)
Mental Health ministry can open doors for the gospel that more traditional ministry approaches cannot. As such, in churches that offer ministries for prison inmates, veterans, or those suffering from addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, or natural disasters, the greater focus on mental health increases opportunities for sharing Jesus with those in distress. (p. 162)
The United States has the largest prison population in the world, exceeding both China and Russia. . . . Sadly, mental illness is far more prevalent among the incarcerated than among the general population. (p. 166)
The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners, and 64 percent of jail inmates suffer with a mental health problem. (p. 166)
Please know that I smile, an encouraging word, and a listening ear or powerful tools and helping those suffering with mental illness take the first step toward healing and recovery. (p. 170)
God is sending those broken by mental illness to the church. Imagine what could happen if churches were equipped to serve as the front door to the mental healthcare system. (p. 184)

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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