Spirituality and Mental Illness

Reaching out to Faith
Part II
Opening the Door
To Understanding & Dialogue
about Mental Illness
NAMI Beginnings
Faith Communities Provide
a Home and Hope
Illness Raises Spiritual
Questions and Concerns
• Where is God in this?
• Why do bad things happen to good
• How can my faith help me heal?
• What now? Is there meaning and purpose
for my life? Where do I belong?
Social Isolation
Illness and Recovery
• Spiritual estrangement can also be part
of the illness experience
• Spiritual support can play a significant
role in the recovery process¹
Responding to Illness
When Ellyn had cancer,
she received:
When Ellyn had mental
illness, she received:
• Visits in the hospital
• Notes and cards
• Meals that were made for
her family
• Prayers
• Support for her treatment
• A ‘welcome back’
• Visits in the hospital
• Notes and cards
• Meals that were made for
her family
• Prayers
• Support for her treatment
• A ‘welcome back’
Spiritual Connection
Basic Care-giving:
• Learn to recognize and accept.
• Assist in finding the help needed.
• Support treatment and recovery.
• Attend to the person’s basic needs.
Spiritual Support
Create a safe place
Offer the gift of presence
Listen and share the journey
Hold them in thought and prayer
Providing Care to the Family
Reach out – be a friend.
Learn about the unique impact on each one.
Create a supportive network or group.
Learn what is helpful and hurtful to do or say.
Provide community resource referrals.
Giving Support
Other Family Ministry Ideas
• Create a respite care team
• Send cards or meals to a family member
• Offer to mow the lawn or trim the bushes for
a military wife
• Offer to baby sit for a working mother
• Invite the family to sit with you at church
services and events
Preparing for Dialogue
Create a Lead-in Statement
• When introducing yourself: “I’m a volunteer for
NAMI, a local affiliate of the National Alliance on
Mental Illness. Have you heard of it?”
• “Did you know that one in four adults experiences a
mental illness during their lifetime, but that stigma
and misinformation are still major barriers to
• “Our family has been touched by mental illness, but
we found help and hope through NAMI’s education
and support programs. May I tell you about it?”
Encouraging the
• How can NAMI help this faith community
open its doors to individuals and families
who face mental illness?
• How can this faith community increase its
capacity to support healing and recovery?
• What resources are available to develop a
mental health ministry or support effort?
Faith and Mental Illness
• NAMI has members from many different
faith backgrounds
• NAMI welcomes individuals and families
from all walks of life and spiritual traditions
• A person’s faith can be an important part of
their healing and recovery
• I can say a word or two about my experience
with mental illness and spirituality
Opportunities for
Awareness Events
May - Mental Health Month
July – Minority Mental Health Month
September - Recovery Month
First week of October - Mental Illness
Awareness Week
• Write an article
• Compose a poem or prayer to be used in a
• Schedule a mental health speaker
• Form a team for a local NAMI WALK
• Create a bulletin board
Become a Stigma Buster
Advocacy Opportunities
Resource Notebook
Local NAMI Affiliate Brochure
NAMI FaithNet Brochure
Brief Referral List
Fact Sheet or Illness Brochure(s)
Multi-Faith Mental Health Ministry Links
A Sample Contact Report
• Faith Group: (name, address, phone, e-mail/website)
• Conversation Partner(s): (name, address, phone,
• Interests Observed: (specific topics, suggested ways
to follow-up)
• Follow up: (documents sent, e-mail, calls, plans, visits)
No one wants to listen?
Connect Clergy
• Encourage faith leaders to talk with other
• Invite clergy and congregational leaders to
participate in a NAMI event or WALK
• Sponsor a Clergy Luncheon
• Speak to a Ministerial Association
Who Wants to Speak Up?
Questions or Comments?
Thank you for taking the three minute survey
and register your feedback.

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