Mental Health Ministries


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10 Things Faith Community Leaders Can Do to Make the World a Better Place for People with Mental Illnesses

By the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness

A Call to Healing by Craig Rennebohm(PDF, English | @ INMI Google Doc)

Ten points for faith community leaders to reflect upon and practice to make their ministry a place welcoming to persons suffering mental illness.

Published by the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness.

10 Ways to Combat Discrimination with Compassionate Language

By Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

(PDF, English)

10 Ways to Combat Discrimination with Compassionate LanguageThe language we use to talk about mental health is especially important. It can have powerful consequences. While some may intentionally use unkind labels to describe individuals with mental health conditions, most people are just unaware that their language choices are harmful. To promote better understanding of appropriate language for mental health and to combat discrimination against individuals living with these challenges, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) has created ten principles of compassionate language.

A Call to Healing

By Craig Rennebohm, MDiv

A Call to Healing by Craig Rennebohm(PDF, English | @ American Psychiatric Association)

For 25 years I worked as a chaplain on the streets of Seattle, with individuals who were homeless and struggling with mental illness. My particular concern was for persons like Terry, who slept hidden on the doorstep of the church, silently going through the meal line, fearful and disconnected from care...

Published in The Christian Citizen (Vol. 2, 2014), a publication of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

America’s Long-Suffering Mental Health System

By Zeb Larson

(PDF, English | @ Origins)

America's Long-Suffering Mental Health SystemA familiar scene plays out again and again in American public life in the 21st century. In the wake of the mass shooting such as the one in Parkland, FL, commentators, pundits, and politicians all gather around to talk about the country’s broken mental health system and suggest its connection to the violence.  In the article, America’s Long-Suffering Mental Health System, historian Zeb Larson traces how our response to mental illness has been shaped by a faith that such illness can be cured and a desire to deal with the mentally ill as cheaply as possible.  This is an excellent overview of how mental illness has been viewed and treated over time and where we are today.

Breaking the Taboo: How the Church Can Help People with Mental Illness

By Tricia Brown

(PDF, English | @ United Methodist Communications)

Breaking the TabooTricia Brown outlines the importance of educating faith leaders and congregations about mental illness. She shares ways to provide encouragement along with ways to support family and friends. ”Churches are places of refuge.”

Bringing Mental Illness into the Light

(PDF, English | @ General Board of Higher Education & Ministry)

Bringing Mental Illness Into the LightThe church as one thinks of it serves different purposes in the lives of different people. For some, it is their opportunity each week to leave the outside world behind and reconnect with God. For others, it is a social occasion or perhaps even simply just an obligation. But what of those who absolutely need the church as a rock in their lives, those who struggle daily against the workings of their own minds? Are they able to see the church as not only a place to find spiritual wholeness, but mental wholeness as well? The hope of the Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder of Mental Health Ministries in San Diego, Calif., is that soon they will be able to do just that.

Published by the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry, April 2011. Article writen by Aaron Cross.

COVID-19: Guidance for Faith Communities – World Vision

(PDF, English | @World Vision)

Excerpts from World Vision - As the COVID-19 virus spreads around the world, it's important that we all take responsibility for reducing the impact on our families and communities. First, this pandemic calls us to draw near to God in prayer. Second, we are called to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe by following the guidelines provided by authorized voices in order to reduce the spread of the virus and to prevent fear through misinformation. And thirdly, as World Vision we have a privileged position to engage with churches, church leaders and leaders from all faith traditions.

Faith leaders play a critical role in preparing their communities for the onset of the COVID-19 threat, in promoting healthy behavior to reduce the spread, in tackling stigma and fear and in providing practical care for the most vulnerable.

COVID-19 Recommended Preventative Practices and FAQs for Faith-Based and Community Leaders

The Partnership Center - Center for Faith and Opportunity InititativesThe Role of Faith-based and Community Leaders
(PDF, English)

Faith-based and community leaders continue to be valuable sources of comfort and support for their members and communities during times of distress, including the growing presence of COVID-19 in different parts of the country. As such, these leaders have the unique ability to address potential concerns, fears, and anxieties regarding COVID-19. Additionally, by reiterating simple hygienic precautions and practices, these leaders can broadly promote helpful information, managing fear and stigma, and restoring a sense of calm into the lives of those in their care.

Such leaders are also poised ― through their acts of service and community relationships ― to reach vulnerable populations with essential information and assistance. These acts of service are an essential part of the safety net for the vulnerable in their communities.

Creating Community Connections for Mental Health


Creating Community Connections for Mental Health(PDF, English | @

Faith and community leaders can help educate individuals and families about mental health, increasing awareness of mental health issues and making it easier for people to seek help. Community connectedness and support, like that found in faith-based and other neighborhood organizations, are also important to the long-term recovery of people living with mental illnesses.

Curing and Healing

(PDF, English)

Curing and HealingWhen our daughter was first diagnosed with a mental illness, we prayed and prayed that God would take this terrible disease from her. We wanted it to be gone. She wanted it to be gone. No one should be suffering so. Other people were cured of their diseases. They took special medications or had surgery. They listened to everything the doctors told them and they prayed for their disease to be gone….and for many of them it was. There was a cure. Couldn’t there be a cure from our daughter’s mental illness too?

Article written by One Mind Mental Illness Ministry.

Faith and Mental Health: Creating a Culture of Encounter and Friendship

By Curtis Ramsey-Lucas

(PDF, English)

Faith and Mental Health: Creating a Culture of Encounter and FriendshipThis article by Curtis Ramsey-Lucas explores how congregations and faith leaders can work with psychiatrists and the mental health community to develop a culture of encounter and friendship that includes persons with mental health conditions and their families. One in five Americans annually experiences mental health conditions ranging in severity from temporary psychological distress to serious depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, yet less than one-third of these persons receives appropriate care, often because of stigma associated with these conditions and their treatments. The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities, has partnered with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in an effort to change these statistics for the better. Through the Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership, IDAC and APA are encouraging a dialogue between two fields, reducing stigma, and accounting for medical and spiritual dimensions as people seek care.

Published by Review and Expositor (Vol. 113(2), 198-204, 2016), a publication of Sage Publishing.

The Face of Depression

(PDF, English)

The Face of DepressionPart of my journey has been to understand my bleakest times as times of fertile darkness.

Faith and Religion in Recovery

By Sonia Tagliareni 

(PDF, English | @

Faith and Religion in RecoveryOver the past century we’ve seen myriad medications, therapy modules and self-help routines developed to battle the problem. Faith and spirituality remain among the most time-tested supplements in the world of addiction treatment and provide a core value for many rehab facilities and community support groups that yield success stories.

Friendship and People with Mental Illness

By Warren Kinghorn and Abraham Nussbaum

(PDF, English | @ Faith & Leadership)

Faith and Religion in RecoveryThis article from Faith & Leadership (Duke University) shares how churches are the front line of encountering suffering in large portions of our culture and have the opportunity and responsibility to minister to people with mental illness, say two psychiatrists trained in theology. Churches can do much to welcome, be with and support those with mental illness.  Learning how to be friends with people with mental illness is really about learning how to be friends with people generally, Kinghorn said.

Help Your College Student Combat a Major Danger: Depression

By Marcia Morris M.D.

(PDF, English | @ Psychology Today)

Help Your College Student Combat a Major Danger: DepressionThis article by Marcia Morris M.D. offers four ways your college student can defeat depression.

How Faith Communties Can Help Veterans and their Families Readjust

(PDF, English)

How Faith Communities Can Help Veterans and their Families ReadjustTHE ROAD HOME from war can be more challenging than the road to war for both combatants and their families. While the reunion is wonderful, after the reunion there may be a difficult period of transition and readjustment. For those who serve in the military ("soldiers") and families with faith, their faith community can be a crucial partner in this process.

How Muslim Americans Are Fighting Mental Health Stigma

By Laura Lee Huttenbach, Psychology Today

How Muslim Americans are Fighting Mental Health Stigma(PDF, English | @ Psychology Today)

Published in Psychology Today, "How Muslim Americans Are Fighting Mental Health Stigma," addresses how people in the Muslim American community continue to face distinct challenges related to mental illness and stigma, advocates and mental health professionals are working to come up with solutions.

In the Shadow of God's Wings

(PDF, English)

In the Shadow of God's WingsArticles from Sacred Journey - excerpts from Susan's book.

Invisible Struggles: Churches learning to help individuals with mental illness

(PDF, English)

Invisible Struggles: Churches learning to help individuals with mental illnessAt one United Methodist Church in central Kentucky, members always turned up with cards, visits and gifts of food whenever a church family faced a crisis. But when someone in Angie O’Malley’s family was diagnosed with a mental illness in the 1990s, that didn’t happen.

First published by The United Methodist Portal. Article by Bill Fentum.

Keeping the Holidays Bright When Your Child Has Social, Emotional or Behavioral Challenges

(PDF, English)

Helping Children Cope with the HolidaysThe hustle of the holiday season has arrived. While festive decorations, sweet treats and images of Santa Claus are exciting for most children, holidays can be difficult for kids who struggle with social, emotional or behavioral challenges. One year, my five-year-old was anxious that Santa Claus-- whom she identified as a stranger she had only met once at the mall—was coming into our house on Christmas night. She couldn’t sleep until we reassured her that we would not allow him in that year. For kids who are anxious, many things about the holidays can be uncomfortable--the details of holiday travel, altered schedules, and even attention from infrequently-seen relatives...

First published by Persevering Parent Ministries. Article written by Karen Crum, Dr.PH, Persevering Parent Ministries.

Mental Health Wellness Tips for Quarantine

(PDF, English)

A clinician whole name I do not know has put together an excellent list of 25 Mental Wellness Tips for Quarantine. He/she says, “I am a doctoral level Psychologist in NYS with a Psy.D. in the specialties of School and Clinical Psychology.”

Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond

(PDF, English)

It's Up To Us - Susan Gregg-Schroeder InterviewOne in four families sitting in the pews has a member dealing with mental illness. Yet our religious communities are often silent when it comes to understanding mental disorders as treatable illnesses. Persons struggling with a mental illness and their family members often become detached from their faith communities and their spirituality, which could be an important source of healing, wholeness and hope in times of personal darkness.

Published in The Christian Citizen (Vol. 2, 2014), a publication of the American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

Mental Illness Remains Taboo Topic for Many Pastors

By Lifeway Research

(PDF, English | @ LifewayResearch)

Mental Illness - Taboo Topic Among PreachersOne in four Americans suffers from some kind of mental illness in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many look to their church for spiritual guidance in times of distress. But they’re unlikely to find much help on Sunday mornings.  Most Protestant senior pastors (66 percent) seldom speak to their congregation about mental illness.  That includes almost half (49 percent) who rarely (39 percent) or never (10 percent), speak about mental illness. About 1 in 6 pastors (16 percent) speak about mental illness once a year. And about quarter of pastors (22 percent) are reluctant to help those who suffer from acute mental illness because it takes too much time.

Those are among the findings of a recent study of faith and mental illness by Nashville-based LifeWay Research. The study, co-sponsored by Focus on the Family, was designed to help churches better assist those affected by mental illness. 

NAMI Takes a Multi-faceted Look at Faith and Mental Illness at 2009 Convention

(PDF, English)

NAMI Takes a Multi-Faceted Look at Faith and Mental Illness at 2009 ConventionWhat do a Reverend, a Rabbi and a Muslim imam have in common? It may sound like the beginning of an old-time joke, but this time there is no punch line. The 2009 NAMI Annual Convention in San Diego provided workshops on faith and mental illness hosted by the FaithNet Advisory Council to share innovative ideas and projects underway in the grassroots communities.

First published by NAMI Advocate, Fall 2009. Article written by Karen Costa.

The Necessity of Mental Health Ministries

By Curtis Ramsey-Lucas

(PDF, English | @ Sojourners)

Necessity of Mental Health MinistriesPastors can help address this disconnect between need and appropriate care by preaching and speaking about mental illness with directness and compassion from the pulpit. As Megan Snell writes, “when I speak frankly about depression from the pulpit, breaking the silence of mental illness, people respond with tearful gratitude for having their own life experience finally spoken about from the place of spiritual authority in our worship spaces.”

Places of Worship Can Be Havens for People with Mental Health Issues

By Stephan Bedard

(PDF, English)

Places of Worship Can be Havens for People With Mental HealthStephan Bedard writes, "While faith may not be directly related to a person’s mental health, places of worship have a role to play in supporting those with mental health issues.  Places of worship have not always done a good job in the area of mental health. It doesn’t have to be that way. Communities of faith can be safe places for all of us to journey through the highs and lows of mental health."

Preaching + Mental Illness

By Sarah Griffith Lund

(PDF, English | @ Working Preacher)

Preaching + Mental IllnessMany clergy do not know where to begin when addressing mental illness.  Using the pulpit to educate congregations is a powerful way to share that mental illness is not a moral or spiritual failure.  It is a treatable illness that impacts our lives, our families and our communities.  Our faith communities can offer a container of acceptance and comfort to assure persons that they are held by a loving God even in the midst of personal despair.  Preaching + Mental Illness is an article by Sarah Griffith Lund, a UCC pastor, that offers scriptures to use as entry points for preaching about mental illness. 

Preaching on Mental Health

By Rev. Shane Moore

(PDF, English | @ United Methodist Pacific Northwest Conference)

Preaching on Mental Health“Preaching on Mental Health” is an article by Rev. Shane Moore.  After encouragement from others he preached a four-week sermon series entitled “Faithfully Mindful." Moore says, “Each week we looked at issues surrounding mental health and essential self-care from a scriptural perspective. Then after the sermon, we had a “Mental Health Moment” that provided the more practical aspects of mental health and included ways to care for our own mental health.” This article includes scripture and suggestions for preaching a sermon addressing mental health.

Reaching Out with Hospitality to People with Mental Illness

By Thomas P. Welch, MD

(PDF, English | @ Pastoral Liturgy)

It's Up To Us - Susan Gregg-Schroeder InterviewThomas P. Welch, MD, a psychiatrist at the Northwest Catholic Counseling Center, is a member of the Council on Mental Illness of the National Catholic Partnership on Disability. He writes, “Because mental illnesses are so common, every parish will have members with a variety of conditions; some might be readily apparent, while others could be less visible. Regardless of the nature of their mental illness, people should feel welcomed and valued in their parish. Ways to promote an environment of welcome can be as simple as including intentions for people who have mental illness in the Prayer of the Faithful and hosting support groups such as those offered by the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Attention to language in homilies or parish communications is necessary to avoid the use of derogatory or outdated terms for people with mental illness or other disabilities that can inadvertently alienate.” The article is divided into four helpful sections with ideas for congregations in each session.


Read Up: Creating Caring Congregations - An interview with Susan Gregg-Schroeder

(PDF, English | @ It's Up To Us)

It's Up To Us - Susan Gregg-Schroeder InterviewA supportive faith community can provide hope, support and the feeling of being connected to something bigger: a place where people are accepted for who they are. But unfortunately not all congregations offer this refuge to individuals who are dealing with mental illness or to their family members.

Published by It's Up To Us to Create a Healthy & Supportive San Diego, Spring 2013

Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder–working to erase the stigma of mental illness

(PDF, English | @ The Brave Discussion)

Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder -- working to erase the stigma of mental illnessIn recent years much has been done to de stigmatise the language used around mental health and in Australia we have wonderful organisations like Beyond Blue, The Black Dog Institute and Sane to name just a few doing wonderful work...

Published by The Brave Discussion, August 2011

Role of the Clergy: The Effects of Alcohol and Drugs on the Person and the Family

By Reverend C. Roy Woodruff, Ph.D.

(PDF, English | @ NACoA)

Role of the Clergy: The Effects of Alcohol and Drugs on the Person and the Family“There is a growing recognition, both inside and outside the framework of traditional religion, that there is a spiritual dimension to addiction. Unfortunately, clergy in many if not most major U.S. religious faith groups and denominations feel poorly equipped to deal with the problem as it presents itself in the their congregation.”

Reprinted from Seminary Journal, Volume 9, Winter 2003.

The Role of Faith Communities in the Midst of Disaster

(PDF, English)

The Role of Faith Communities in the Midst of DisasterPerhaps soon, faith communities will be recognized for their unique perspective that offers healing of the spirit, a way to hold together the fabric of a ravaged community, and hope for the future.

Published by the NAMI Advocate, Fall 2005.

Seeds of Hope

(PDF, English | @ Esperanza's Hope)

Seeds of HopeIn the fall of 1991, I found myself in a deep depression. I was in my third year as a pastor at a large urban church in San Diego. I was enjoying my career and the opportunity to serve others. But a series of unexpected events hit me like waves until I was overwhelmed by despair. Little did I know that my journey in the darkness would lead to the discovery of a deep and abiding hope.

Published in Esperanza Magazine, Spring 2008. Article written by Susan Gregg-Schroeder.

The Silent Stigma of Mental Illness in the Church

By Robyn Henderson-Espinoza 

(PDF, English | @ Sojourners)

The Silent Stigma of Mental Illness in the ChurchChristian ethics and moral imagination often diminish people who live with experiences of mental illness.  The author, Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, states, "If one of our greatest social sins is the lack of access to mental health care, it is a moral imperative begin a discourse around mental health in our faith communities so that we are not silencing those who live with experiences of mental illnesses."

Toward a Christian Perspective of Mental Illness

By Brad Hambrick

(PDF, English)

Toward a Christian Perspective of Mental IllnessTowards a Christian Perspective of Mental Illness is an article by Brad Hambrick that offers five ways the church, corporately or through individuals can help someone facing mental illness.


When the 'What-Ifs' Are Overwhelming: Three Simple Practices for Anxiety in Uncertain Times

(PDF, English | @Discover Hope)

LuAnn Roberson writes, “When life feels uncertain, it is natural to get caught up in thinking through “what-if” scenarios. When we come down with a bad case of the “what-ifs,” anxiety levels escalate, and mental energy and coping skills can quickly become ineffective. With higher anxiety, the need for simple coping strategies is essential. Perhaps the following practices from NICABM* and God’s Word will be helpful for you personally, and also for those in your sphere of influence.”

  • The first strategy is: WHAT IF…? THEN WHAT?
  • A second strategy example: ONE DAY AT A TIME!
  • A third strategy to practice: COMPASSIONATE ACTION

Article – Why Black Churches Need to Do Better with Mental Health Issues

Why Black Churches Need to Do Better with Mental Health IssuesHistorically, mental health issues were deemed “a vice of the Devil,” and the solution was prayer and stronger faith. Unfortunately, remnants of this rhetoric are still echoed throughout churches today. While calling on someone to “hold fast to their faith” is not an issue, when it is presented as the only answer, it silences a lot of questions. Questions like, “What do you do when prayer and faith don’t seem like enough?” Too often when someone asks this question out loud, they are met with shame or reprimand. They are told they lack faith. This message, combined with the fixation on seeming invincible, causes many Black households to ignore or hide mental health issues. 

Why Black Churches Need to Do Better with Mental Health Issues | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Why Clergy and Spiritual Leaders May be Reluctant to Address Mental Health Issues

(PDF, English)

Why Clergy & Spiritual Leaders May Be Reluctant to Address Mental Health IssuesAs an ordained minister and a person who lives with a mental illness, I am often asked why it is so difficult for many spiritual leaders to talk openly about mental illness.

Article written by Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder.

Words Matter with Mental Health

By Jeremy Smith

(PDF, English)

Words Matter with Mental Health article by Church and Mental HealthWords matter with mental illness. Words matter with developmental disabilities. Words matter with substance misuse. This article offers examples of People-First Language. “We should acknowledge that the childhood adage ‘sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me,’ is patently untrue. Words, and the meanings with which they are imbued can achieve accuracy and relevance or they can transmit dangerous stereotypes and half-truths. They can empower or disempower, humanize or objectify, engender compassion or elicit malignant fear and hatred. Words can inspire us or deflate us, comfort us or wound us. They can bring us together or render us enemies.” William White