Working to improve the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families
800 Transfer Road, #31
Saint Paul, MN 55114
toll free: 1-888-NAMI-HELPS
The Interfaith Network for Mental Health fosters mental health in faith communities through education, networking and support.
NAMI Minnesota's FaithWays Program serves as a resource to faith communities on programming designed to erase the stigma of mental illness. FaithWays, in collaboration with other mental health organizations, provides technical assistance and customized educational forums and trainings to meet a congregation’s need.
Faith communities are in a unique position to combat stigma and provide a message of acceptance and hope. Serious mental illnesses are medical conditions that cause disturbances in a person's thinking, feeling, moods, and ability to relate to others. They can diminish a person's capacity for coping with the regular demands of ordinary life and can place tremendous burdens on family members and loved ones.
Unfortunately, both ignorance and fear continue to play leading roles in perpetuating the stigma that individuals living with a mental illness face. This stigma leads to under-funding of government programs for public mental health services, discrimination by insurance companies, lack of appropriate housing and employment options, and pervasive media portrayals of persons with mental illnesses as violent, dangerous, or hopeless.
And yet, mental illnesses do not discriminate. These disorders affect people of every race, ethnic heritage, gender, language, age, and religious orientation. According to the U.S Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), at any given moment more than 48 million Americans living with a "diagnosable" mental illness, and 11 million are living with a "severe" mental illness. Persons with mental illnesses are our neighbors, our coworkers, our siblings, our friends. They are also members of our churches, synagogues, and other faith communities.
Religious communities are in a unique position to combat stigma and provide a message of acceptance and hope. Proclaiming the values of social justice, respect for all persons, and non-discrimination, faith communities can reach out to individuals and families affected by mental illnesses in many helpful ways. Sharing the message that all persons are worthy in the eyes of God, a faith community may be the only place where a person with a mental illness truly feels accepted, valued, and loved.
For people who find no other welcome in the larger community, being welcomed in a house of prayer by a concerned and caring community can make a critical difference for individuals with mental illnesses and their families. Churches, synagogues, and other places of worship can help families learn more about mental illnesses. They can open their doors and their hearts to people living with a mental illness and be a supportive presence in their on-going recovery.
- Adult forums on Mental illness 101
- Specific forums on adult and/or children’s issues
- Presentations on teen issues for youth and adults
- Confirmation class presentations
- Collaboration with other organizations on presentations
- Befriender and Stephen’s Ministers
- Religious Education teachers
- Youth Ministers
- Pastoral care and lay ministers
- Parish Nurses
- Help congregations assess programming needs
- Provide support group facilitation training
- Speaker’s Bureau
- Provide bulletin inserts
- Provide information for Mental Illness Awareness Week in October
Ways congregations can help
- Host any of the NAMI education programs: Family-to-Family, Hope for Recovery, Kidshops, Children’s Challenging Behaviors, Keeping Families Together, When Crisis Occurs, What Works-What Helps.
- Recruit teachers for NAMI's education programs
- Participate on the NAMI Minnesota legislative network
For more information please contact NAMI Minnesota, 651-645-2948.
For a wealth of additional information, visit NAMI's Outreach to Faith Communities at NAMI FaithNet.
The Importance of Faith in Recovery - Handout: How Journey of Hope Impacted My Recovery
Additional supportive links
Pathways to Promise
Presbyterian Serious Mental Illness Network
UCC Mental Illness Network
Virginia Interfaith Committee on Mental Illness Ministries
Mental Health Ministries
The Mental Health Chaplaincy
Episcopal Mental Illness Network
Basilica of St. Mary (on the homepage click: Life, support, mental health ministry)
Jewish Family & Children’s Mental Health Education Project
Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church Counseling Center
St. Joan of Arc Mental Illness Ministry
Westminster Presbyterian Church Counseling Center
Creating Caring Congregations DVD
Liturgy for MIAW