Coalition for Mental and Spiritual Health Ministries
By Deacon John Warner
Since we human beings are comprised not only of body and mind, but also of spirit, the most efficacious treatment of any illness, including a mental illness, must consider the whole person.
A number of studies have shown that individuals who are active spiritually, who pray, who have others pray with or for others, who practice their spiritual or religious beliefs and attend church services when possible, do lead healthier, happier lives.
Additionally, educating clergy and faith communities regarding mental illness can allay fears, promote inclusiveness and support those with mental illness to take an active role in their recovery.
In response to these beliefs, the Coalition for Mental and Spiritual Health Ministries of Augusta, Georgia, formed in 2002.
The Coalition is an ecumenical, interdenominational organization comprised of clergy, mental health professionals and representatives from local congregations.
The purpose of the Coalition is threefold:
- To educate clergy and laity within the faith communities to an awareness of, and sensitivity about, mental health issues;
- To coordinate and assist members of the faith communities in accessing community resources for mental health services, treatment, and/or counseling;
- To offer education, assistance, and resources to faith communities in the development of their own programs for ministry to persons with mental illness and their families.
The Coalition holds healing services in the fall and spring of each year in different churches in the Augusta area, on a rotating basis. Clergy from differing denominations officiate at the services, pray with individuals and anoint them with oil if they desire it.
The Coalition also schedules an educational seminar once or twice per year to provide education on a variety of topics surrounding mental illness to clergy and mental health professionals, including the incorporation of those with mental illness into the life of the faith community.
For more information on the Coalition for Mental and Spiritual Health Ministries in Augusta, Georgia, contact:
Deacon John Warner
Diocese of Georgia