Starting a Mental Illness Ministry

Basic Ingredients Required:

A Need
Every congregation has this basic ingredient. Mental illness affects one person in every four in our pews. A large percentage of the population of every church is made up of persons who have a brain disorder or who are close to family members and loved ones with a mental illness. Most remain silent about their problems because of shame and stigma.
A Person with a Passion
A mental illness or mental health ministry needs just one person who wants to help his or her congregation become more caring and welcoming to persons with brain disorders and their loved ones.
A Rector/Vicar/Pastor with an Open Mind
A person feeling a call to start a mental illness ministry needs to approach the their clergy and talk about their vision for such a ministry and how it might work.
A Team
A team is necessary to make plans for educational and supportive projects. There are many ways to put a team together, and this will be unique to each parish.
A Commitment
The team should set annual goals for awareness activities, education, and becoming an information source for the congregation on community resources. How can the team encourage the congregation to become a compassionate presence and a safe place to talk about mental illness?
A Clear Mission
The team and the congregation need a clear vision of what the mental illness ministry is and is not. This should be shared with the congregation. An open discussion is necessary to air concerns, fears, and hopes about the ministry.