Tuesday, October 7, 2014

National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding

NAMI (National Association of Mental Illness) sets this time aside every year during the first week of October to celebrate Mental Illness and help educate the rest of the public. I want to do my part as well. I'm blogging for mental illness.

And I especially want to take part in today's session which is the "National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding" on October 7th, 2014.

I thought I'd provide some help for our spiritual leaders, provide some scriptures and end on a prayer for all of us.

Thanks for NAMI for providing the tools we can use.

Bible Verses to Calm an Anxious Heart

Know that the Lord has set His faithful servant for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him. - Psalms 4:3

Lord my God, I take refuge in You; save and deliver me from all who pursue me  - Psalms 7:1

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds. - Psalms 9:1

Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You. = - Psalms 16:1

I say to The Lord, "You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing." - Psalms 16:2

Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings. - Psalms 17:8

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. - Psalms 28:7

Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord, may Your love and faithfulness always protect me. - Psalms 40-11

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. - Psalms 56:3

In God, whose word I praise -- In God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? -- Psalms 56:4

Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. - Psalms 62:8

They will have no fear of bad news, their hearts are steadfast, trusting in The Lord. - Psalms 112:7

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves in my life. Psalms 119:50

Teach me knowledge and good judgement, for I trust Your commands.  - Psalms 119:66

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. - Psalms 139:23

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life. - Psalms 143:8

Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. - Proverbs 3:5

Creating Supportive Congregations
For individuals living with mental illness


1.     Develop a Leadership Team

a. Get permission from clergy or leadership to develop a Mental Health Ministry (MHM)
leadership team. Don’t expect staff to take the lead, but do ask for support from them.
Include pastoral care ministries staff and lay leaders on your leadership team.

b. Become familiar with materials and resources from the following websites:

c. Formulate short- and long-term goals and activities for ministry to and with individuals
living with mental illness. Find out what the congregation has done and is doing and what
it needs and envisions. Keep plans practical, relevant to current needs and feasible,
depending on your volunteer and financial resources.

2.     Educate and Equip

a. Equip leadership staff and lay leaders with information and referral lists for local
mental health care providers, social service agencies and support groups in order to help
parishioners get treatment and assistance. Ask your local National Alliance on Mental
Illness (NAMI) Affiliate for assistance in creating the list.
b. Familiarize the clergy and leadership team with materials for services from the
websites listed in section 1b above. Service planning materials include sermon topics,
illustrations, readings, poems, songs, ideas for newsletter articles and bulletin inserts.
c. Plan a small group meeting for adults or youth.
   1. Invite a guest speaker from NAMI or a mental health expert from the community.
   2. Use a book, DVD or film with facilitated discussions using books and videos from one of the     websites above.
d. Add or recommend books for the congregation’s library.

3.     Promote Friendship, Inclusion and Support Ministries

a. Meet one-on-one (like Stephen Ministers, but less formally).
   1. Be accepting, friendly and genuinely interested in the person living with mental illness.
   2. Visit them and get to know their dreams and needs.
   3. Invite them out to church activities, small groups or family gatherings or to the bowling alley, a movie or a walk in the park.
   4. Offer transportation and other reasonable help within your own limitations.
   5. Send cards, listen, encourage and assure.
   6. Share your own humanity, but not your opinions or advice.
   7. Ask if you can touch or hug; be mindful of others’ physical comfort zone.
   8. Earn their trust over time; expect ups and downs.
b. Encourage church-sponsored friendship, inclusion and support ministries.
   1. Train greeters and ushers how to welcome persons with disabilities of all types.
   2. Sponsor a social club or drop-in center for persons with disabilities.
   3. Recruit volunteers to assist in finding support services (e.g. transportation, legal, medical, financial assistance, food or housing assistance).
   4. Offer support groups for persons/families touched by mental illnesses. Ask for Faith Communities Education Project [FaithCEP] patterns and guidelines or ask your local NAMI Affiliate for referrals.
   5. Offer volunteer work that is realistic but meaningful, providing supervision if needed.
   6. Offer employment opportunities in the church or community.
   7. Provide opportunities to serve and contribute talents on committees, in music groups, as ushers or readers of scripture, or through drama and other art forms.
   8. Offer respite care to families who cannot leave their loved one alone.
   9. Open your doors to local NAMI support groups or other mental health support group organizations.

4.     Engage in Community Outreach and Advocacy

a. Sponsor a health fair and include mental health providers and your NAMI Affiliate.
b. Contact your local NAMI Affiliates or mental health association to see if they are planning events or have resources.
c. Offer meeting space to your NAMI Affiliate for their education courses, including Family-to-Family, Peer-to-Peer and NAMI Basics groups.
d. Join your local NAMI Affiliate and participate in their advocacy work. Alert your social justice committee or congregation to current legislation that will impact health and social services, housing, insurance parity and other issues.

Ideas for a Service of Prayer for Healing and Hope

Scriptures (Can be read in unison or divided and read responsively)

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103: 2-5

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my god, in whom I trust.” …He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalm 91

A Meditation or Homily (Can be offered by a clergy or lay person)

A Song of Response Precious Lord, Take My Hand

Candle Lighting Ceremony (Seven candles are prepared on a table; people read the bold sections)

We light this candle of Hope to dispel the darkness of discouragement and despair.
Let us pray for those who have serious illnesses of mind and body. (Silent prayer)

We light this candle of Grace to dispel the darkness of guilt, blame, and loss.
Let us pray for those with broken lives and broken relationships. (Silent prayer)

We light this candle of Truth to dispel the darkness of stigma and misinformation.
Let us pray for ourselves and others as we learn more about their journey.
We light this candle of Justice to dispel the darkness of inequities and injustice. (Silent prayer)

Let us pray for those who are incarcerated and untreated with mental illness.
We light this candle of Faith to dispel the darkness of doubt and discouragement. (Silent prayer)

Let us pray for those who have lost hope and are in despair.
We light this candle of Peace to dispel the darkness of trauma and torment. (Silent prayer)

Let us pray for those who have experienced violence or abuse.
We light this candle of Love to dispel the darkness of indifference and judgment. (Silent prayer)

Let us pray for ourselves, family members, care givers, health professionals, church
leaders and lay counselors. (Silent prayer)

Prayer Vigil (People write short prayer concerns on a small card received when they entered. While quiet music is played or sung, clergy and/or lay leaders are standing at various locations around the room, ideally with kneeling rails. Without being directed by ushers, those who wish to receive individual prayer go to one of the leaders, handing them the prayer card. The leader whispers a short prayer only heard by the congregant. Anointing with consecrated oil is optional. Music continues until no one else comes forward.)

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Commitment:

O God of Love, Light and Peace, thank you for spiritual healing that goes beyond the physical, for eyes to see beyond the here and now, for faith to claim your promises. We pray for all who dwell under the shadow of illness –mental or physical.

Give us courage to face the challenges and darkness that come uninvited, unpredictably. Make us willing to serve in ways we never envisioned. Through us, shine your light of faith into the lives of those who have lost hope. Open our minds to learn more about their needs
and dreams. Make us channels of your love and mercy, to the praise of your glory. Amen.


Anabaptist Disabilities Network - www.adnetonline.org

Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, Commission on Mental Illness and Faith and Fellowship
for People with Mental Illness - www.miministry.org

Episcopal Mental Illness Network - www.eminnews.org/

Jewish Community Mental Health - www.jamiuk.org

Mental Health Ministries - www.mentalhealthministries.net

Mennonite Media- www.mennomedia.org

Mental Illness Education Project - www.miepvideos.org

Muslim Mental Health – www.muslimmentalhealth.com

NAMI FaithNet www.nami.org/faithnet

One Mind Mental Illness Ministry – http://www.onemindmentalillnessministry.com/

Pathways to Promise www.pathways2promise.org

Presbyterian Church Serious Mental Illness Network -

United Church of Christ Mental Illness Network – www.min-ucc.org

Virginia Interfaith Committee on Mental Illness Ministries (VICOMIM)


Souls in the Hands of a Tender God: Stories of the Search for Home and Healing on the Streets, Craig Rennebohm with David Paul (Beacon Press, 2008)
For those who endeavor to better understand and minister to homeless people who live with mental illness, Souls in the Hands of a Tender God will challenge complacency and stereotypical thinking. Rennebohm and Paul's poignant stories demonstrate the value of each person and illustrate what true companionship looks like. Chaplain Rennebohm's own experience with serious depression has bequeathed him with deep insight into human frailty and God's gracious presence during difficult times. With or without the companion discussion guide,
Conversations, this book is excellent for personal reading or adult education classes, especially those in urban churches.

Caring for the Soul (R'fuat HaNefesh): A Mental Health Resource and Study Guide, Richard F. Address, Editor (URJ Press, 2003)
Caring for the Soul is a sensitively written resource for persons of all faiths. It presents a variety of suggested scriptures, sermons and services in the section titled, "How May We Use Jewish Liturgy to Address Mental Illness in Our Communities?" Other important questions are addressed in other chapters. Clergy and worship planners would benefit from adding this to their library.

A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,
Gary E. Nelson (Cascade Books, 2007)
Gary Nelson's storytelling gift, along with his experience as a pastoral counselor and father of a teen who lived with clinical depression, certainly hold the reader's attention. In addition, Nelson provides compassionate insights and practical suggestions for navigating the stormy years of teen depression. With depression affecting many of our young people, this book is a must-read for family, friends and others. It will give youth workers, church personnel and teachers a deeper knowledge of the illness, sympathy for the teens and families and sensitivity toward what helps and what hurts.

Wresting with our Inner Angels: Faith, Mental Illness and the Journey to Wholeness
Nancy Clare Kehoe, Ph.D.(Jossey-Bass, 2009)
How do you bridge the great divide between spiritual beliefs and the behavioral sciences? If you are like Dr. Kehoe, you become a Catholic nun and a Harvard psychologist. Wrestling with our Inner Angels recounts the journeys to wholeness of the men and women in a religious support group facilitated by Dr. Kehoe in a psychiatric day treatment program in Cambridge, Mass. By recounting their stories, the author allows us to feel their pain, victories and the value of their spiritual pilgrimage in their rehabilitation. The culmination of nearly 30 years of work, the book confirms what many individuals living with mental illness and their family members already know—and what many clergy and health professions need to incorporate into their daily practice: that discovering the religious beliefs and values of the people living with mental illness is often the key that unlocks the door to their recovery. This book is recommended for either personal reading or group discussion.


“People living with mental illness are our neighbors. They are members of our
congregations, members of our families; they are everywhere in this country. If
we ignore their cries for help, we will be continuing to participate in the anguish
from which those cries of help come. A problem of this magnitude will not go
away. Because it will not go away and because of our spiritual commitments, we
are compelled to take action.” −Rosalynn Carter

One in four Americans will experience a serious mental disorder in his or her lifetime, including major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and severe anxiety disorders.

Mental illnesses are no-fault, biologically based brain disorders which cause disturbances in thinking, feeling and/or relating. Persons living with these disorders deserve the dignity of medical treatment and a wide range of supportive services from mental health care providers and caring congregations.

Though the majority of individuals living with mental illness can successfully be treated, stigma and misinformation continue to be significant barriers to treatment:

·      One-third of the homeless are mentally ill.
·      Ninety percent of persons who die by suicide have had a diagnosable serious mental illness.*
·      There are more people with serious mental illnesses in jails and prisons than in state mental institutions.


Churches, temples, mosques and faith communities reach 70 percent of the American population each month. In the U.S., clergy outnumber psychiatrists by nearly 10 to one and are more equitably distributed geographically than health professionals.

The church can fight against misinformation, indifference and ridicule of people living with mental illness by educating both youth and adult congregations. Families affected by mental illness are challenged by some serious faith questions, just as others going through experiences that ask much of them. Educated faith communities can offer emotional, relational and spiritual counseling to persons touched by mental illness.

Education and awareness are valuable keys to shattering the silence and barriers that surround treatment.  By dispelling myths, ignorance and fear, congregations liberate persons touched by mental illness to share their struggles, seek help, regain hope and set out on a new course toward recovery.

 Recovery is possible. Faith communities can play a significant role in the healing process by bringing solace and a sense of wholeness. Learn all you can; do all you can. Take action; speak out; advocate.

*National Institute of Mental Health. (2009). Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention. July 14, 2009. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml


Loving Creator, we come to you on this National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding because we know that you are a God of love and compassion.

We come as people of all creeds and all nations seeking your presence, comfort and guidance. We come as individuals living with mental illness, family members, friends, co-workers and mental health professionals.

 We come this day because we believe that you, Divine One, love each one of us just as we are. You walk with us on our individual journeys through life. You see the ignorance and injustice that divide and separate persons living with mental illness and you weep with us.

Give us courage to face our challenges and open us today to the many ways you are already working in our midst. Help us to identify mental illness as the disease it is, that we might have courage and wisdom in the face of ignorance and stigma. Inspire us as we seek to overcome fear, acquire knowledge and advocate for compassionate and enlightened treatment and services.

Lead us as we open our hearts and homes, our communities and job opportunities, our houses of worship and communities of faith. Enable us to find ways to include persons living with mental illness in our everyday lives. Be with doctors, therapists, researchers, social workers and all those in the helping professions as they seek to overcome ignorance and injustice with care and compassion.

Sometimes, Divine Spirit, we feel discouraged and hopeless in the face of so many challenges. Help us to see ourselves as you see us—persons of value and worth, persons of creativity and potential.

May we come to understand the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit in bringing about health and wholeness. And may we go forward into our communities with a renewed sense of vision, hope and possibility for the future .Amen.

--Reverend Susan Gregg-Schroeder

Please can you do something positive in your church community this week to help spread the word about mental illness and recovery?

If you need spanish materials I can provide those as well, just ask. NAMI has the resources.

I am here to help. 

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