May is Mental Health Month! Partners in Health and Wholeness (PHW) is committed to equipping faith communities with resources that promote emotional well-being, support mental health concerns, and eliminate stigma around mental health in our faith communities. We see mental health work as an opportunity, not a hardship. The need for this work and conversation has always been critical, but with our lives, family, work, and day to day living impacted by COVID-19, our faith communities have an incredible opportunity to join these efforts.
Mental health work can be intimidating. It might feel hard to know where to start. PHW wants to partner with what your faith community is already doing, what you hope to do, and dream of new ways together – no matter where you are right now. Below are a few ideas for starting points to help your faith community approach mental health with compassion:
-Grief: create widow/widower and loss of a child grief groups; offer divorce support or peer groups; reach out to those who are experiencing body function changes like traumatic brain injuries or amputations; 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; discuss the challenges of COVID-19 as a faith community.
-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.
-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 ableness.
Starting and maintaining this work is vital because our mental and emotional health impacts every aspect of our life. It is only together that we can reduce stigma, promote better ways of living, and support those with mental health concerns, as no one faith group can meet each and every need. To help facilitate this work, we have included some resources at the bottom of this page.
As a network of faithful people committed to health and wholeness, we can learn and share – creating effective and lasting resources for our local communities. Please reach out to Partners in Health and Wholeness for more resources and support around mental health ministries. Happy Mental Health Month!
Mental Health Resources
- PHW 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.
- 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.
- Mental Health Across America
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.
- North Carolina Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Support, advocacy, and training around Suicide Prevention. This issue impacts all ages and NC is fortunate to have a strong chapter in this organization. Partners in Health and