Intertwined in Texas: Mental Illness and Poverty in the Lone Star State

It’s hard to overstate the weight of poverty in the lives of those dealing with mental illnesses. Poverty can both increase the likelihood that a person will suffer from mental health challenges and make it more difficult for those already living with these struggles to pursue recovery.

Many intertwining factors related to poverty create a tangled cycle for those living with mental health conditions. For example, a serious mental illness can make it difficult for a person to hold down a job. As a result of being out of work, they may be unable to afford healthy food or a bus pass to get to a doctor’s appointment, adding extra hurdles in managing their illness. They may lose their housing, further eroding their ability to pursue stability. And, as they lack the resources necessary to take steps to improve their mental health, they remain unable to work and their condition may become an even greater struggle. Continue reading

A Well World: Love Thy Neighbor

Participating in a church leaders panel discussion on mental health several years ago, I was asked what Bible verse summed up my philosophy on serving those living with mental health conditions. I suppose some might have gone first to Jesus’ teaching about “caring for the least of these.” But I have always been uncomfortable with the application of that passage to this topic. It feels a little patronizing. Continue reading

Seeing the Hand of God

Pastor Nita Allen and a member of The Well share a hug

“God created us all in his image, which is love. I think the problem we have in mental and social health is that we don’t believe we are loved or lovable,” says Pastor Nita Allen of Oak Cliff Christian Church. She adds that we often don’t realize that God loves us intimately and wants us to become like him. Those who’ve been abused or neglected—as is the case for many who live with mental illness—often believe that they’re unwanted because that’s the message they’ve received. Continue reading

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.