Ready to Care: Resources to Help Churches Minister to those Struggling With Mental Illnesses

Faith communities are often the first places individuals and families turn to when faced with the challenges of mental illness, especially during a crisis. Churches have unique opportunities to minister, not only in times of acute struggle, but in the daily hurdles as well.

A 2018 LifeWay Research study found most pastors, family members and those living with acute mental illnesses agree that local churches have a responsibility to provide resources and support for these individuals and their families. But, knowing how to serve them in ways that truly bless them and affirm their value can be a challenge.

Thankfully, there are many resources that can help churches become more aware of mental illnesses and how to minister to those who struggle with these conditions. The following books and websites provide information and tools to help churches welcome those who deal with mental health challenges and provide practical assistance. Continue reading

A Well World: Looking Back

Most of the time, I’m a “looking forward” type of person. So it takes a bit of work for me to stop and look back. But every year we develop our annual report and that gives me a great reason to pause and remember.

We just released the 2018 Annual Report. Our theme is “Stigma-Free Zone” and we’ve included a couple of stories from our members who share how stigma has impacted them. We also tell about one of our volunteers, a retired police detective, who is helping our members rebuild the dignity that stigma has stolen. Continue reading

Overpowering Stigma With Community

For those who live with serious mental health conditions, stigma is constant companion. It follows them like a shadow they can’t escape, defining them by their illnesses in the minds of others and coloring the way they are seen in their communities with misconceptions. It causes them to be avoided or ignored at best, and often leads to discrimination and mistreatment. Continue reading

A Well World: Little Bit of Good

In the general population, one in 25 individuals experiences a serious mental health issue each year. At The Well, 25 in 25 experience the challenges of mental illness each day.

Severe mental health disorders have devastating effects on individuals and their families. Schizophrenia robs cognitive functions and communication abilities. Bipolar disorder wrecks havoc in its manic state and suppresses hope in its depressive state. All mental illnesses isolate and debilitate. Continue reading

Echoes from The Well

The Well Community is made up of over 200 adults who come from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and experiences. They are drawn together at The Well because of one common cord. Each shoulders the burden of chronic and severe mental illness. When one member shares their story of ineffective treatments, loss of jobs, families, dignity, the others nod in shared understanding. When another tells of the heartache of “being different,” of being misunderstood or being mistreated, the others echo the pain.

In our new video, Echoes from The Well, five of our members give us a glimpse into their worlds and a brief look at how The Well Community has brought life back into their lives.

Six Ways to Help Others Become Aware of Mental Illness

Awareness of the truth about mental illnesses is a first step in learning to come alongside those whose lives are impacted by them. Although understanding and acceptance of these conditions are growing, much progress is required before those dealing with serious mental health challenges are met with support and friendship rather than fear. Below are six ways you can become an advocate for those living with mental illnesses by being able to help others gain awareness. Continue reading

Friendship Rather Than Fear

Rita, second from the left, spending time with some of her friends from The Well at the spring spiritual retreat.

Rita’s struggles with her mental health began nearly four decades ago. “It started when I had a baby,” she says. Her suffering from postpartum depression eventually led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder—and a long and difficult path of dealing with a serious mental illness. It is with pain that Rita recalls being hospitalized and strapped to a bed due to the condition she’s dealt with for so long. Continue reading

A Well World: The Great Escape

 

It’s a rite of spring for our members: our overnight retreat to Mt. Lebanon Camp. They look forward to it each year like you and I do when we count down days for vacation or holiday breaks. You and I know what having a “time away” means for our outlook, our attitude, our physical energy. And if we are honest, we can admit that being able to regularly retreat into nature is foundational to our mental health. That’s also true for members of The Well Community—but perhaps even more so. Continue reading

Volunteer Opportunities for All

Kate Thacker shares the benefits of serving with her family at The Well

Every few months two small pairs of hands are among those that serve dinner to members of The Well Community. They belong to Kate and Don Thacker’s children, ages 5 and 7. For the past two years, ever since another family invited Kate to join them in volunteering at The Well, the Thacker crew has regularly set aside Thursday evenings to provide a meal for members. Don’s band has played occasionally during the worship time at Thursday Night Life, and the kids have even joined him on stage. “We love it,” Kate says. Continue reading