Happy Mental Health Month! This is a terrific time to promote helpful mental health practices with your faith community. We can also increase awareness for those living with mental health concerns and eliminate stigma. Faith communities can promote mental health as an opportunity, not a hardship. Consider these starting points to help your faith community approach mental health with compassion:
-Establish support groups: Overall support from difficult life situations can also benefit our individual and communal mental health. Examples of helpful support groups include: Grief groups, such as widow/widower and loss of a child grief groups; offer divorce support; life changes in mobility, memory loss, or cognitive abilities; organize support groups for those living with cancer, diabetes or chronic illness; provide emotional and tangible resources for those dealing with unemployment.
-Anxiety, Stress, Isolation, & Loneliness: Promote resilience by talking about healthy ways to manage stress and difficult circumstances; model transparency and vulnerability; create a listening environment that allows for sharing without fixing; host speakers to share about skills to practice.
-Maternal & Family Life Concerns: Education about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs); resources and support groups for those experiencing Postpartum Depression; create meet-ups for new parents; provide space for grief and encouragement for couples dealing with infertility; caregiver support: encouragement and resources organized for those caring for aging parents, differently-abled family members, or families with mental health concerns.
-Mental Health Programing: host a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) peer-support group; offer Mental Health First Aid certification; organize a book club that focuses on mental health; host conversations on emotional well-being, suicide prevention, self-care, or living with mental health concerns. Host a suicide prevention training through Living Works Faith.
-Be an Inclusive Space: promote inclusive language that helps destigmatize mental health concerns from individual conversations to the pulpit by using person-first language; provide a compassionate response and support to those living with addiction; craft programming that is mindful of neuro-sensitivities and varied abilities.
This work is vital because our mental and emotional health impacts every aspect of our life. Together we can eliminate stigma, promote better ways of living, and support those with mental health concerns.
Mental Health Resources
PHW is continuously compiling mental health resources that can equip people of faith with the right tools to learn and grow in this work. We are continuously updating this page, so we encourage you to bookmark this page and check back later for updates.
Living Works Faith is a suicide prevention training that is specifically for faith communities. This training helps with prevention and postvention care.
NC NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
NC NAMI provides free resources, trainings, and peer groups for those wanting to learn more about mental illness and how to develop stronger emotional wellbeing. Their programs and support groups are often hosted by churches and have various topics: family issues, parent needs, veterans and military, peer-to peer, advocacy, and free informative presentations.
Free screenings and tangible resources. Helpful contact list. Information on policy and resources such as psychiatric advance directives and working with a mental health provider.
Mental Health First Aid
Become Mental Health First Aid certified so that you can be better equipped to notice symptoms of mental health; help during a mental health crisis; be productive in preventing crises. There are multiple first aid programs: adult and youth. The course is eight hours long and churches can utilize a Partners in Health and Wholeness mini-grant to pay for the training for congregants.
National Council for Mental Health
Resources and accessible information on various mental health topics, A-Z. You can also use their consulting service for direct-help. Check the website for events, too.
Faith Connections on Mental Illness
A triangle- based organization that bridges faith and mental health through events, a monthly educational group, support groups, and resources. Faith Connections also hosts an annual faith and mental health conference during spring in Chapel Hill. This is an important and useful event that equips those wanting to learn about various topics.