The United Methodist General Boards of Church & Society (GBCS) and Global Ministries (GBGM) have created a new resource for local congregations to observe Mental Health Awareness Month in May. The bulletin insert, “Faith & Mental Health — Creating Caring & Sharing Communities” is available free as a download at umc-gbcs.org/resources-websites.
According to United Methodist resolution Ministries in Mental Illness, “Faithful Christians are called to be in ministry to individuals and their families challenged by disorders causing disturbances of thinking, feeling and acting categorized as ‘mental illness’” (#3301, The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church 2012).
The resolution commits United Methodists to the following:
- Learn more about the causes of mental illnesses;
- Advocate for compassion and generosity in the treatment of mental illnesses; and
- Prayerfully lead our congregations to be in ministry, demonstrating the church, as the body of Christ, can work to provide the means of grace that leads to wholeness and healing for all.
The bulletin insert was designed by Michelle Whittaker, GBCS director of Communications & New Media.
The insert is among a series of new or updated activities and resources addressing mental health that have been created in cooperation between the two agencies. The bulletin insert points out that United Methodists around the world are called to join the “Caring Communities” program in covenant relationship with persons with mental illness and their families. It highlights the five emphases of Caring Communities:
- Educate congregations and the community in public discussion about mental illness and work to reduce the stigma experienced by those suffering.
- Covenant to understand and love persons with mental illness and their families.
- Welcome persons and their families into the faith community.
- Support persons with mental illness and their families through providing awareness, prayer and respect.
- Advocate for better access, funding and support for mental health treatment and speak out on mental health concerns.
This insert provides statistics about mental illness and identifies other mental-health resources, such as the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Faithnet, Pathways to Promise, an ecumenical mental health coalition, and the United Methodist Committee on DisAbility Ministries.
An important component of the bulletin insert is its emphasis on countering the “stigma” that so often accompanies mental illness.
More information and resources concerning United Methodist ministries in this area are available at umc-gbcs.org/issues/mental-health.