Methodists and Mental Health
There are four principal factors that John Wesley believed Christians could use to understand their faith. Built on the Anglican theological tradition of including scripture, tradition and reason, Wesley added a fourth marker: experience.
Every Wesleyan marker for understanding our faith eventually makes its way through our psyche and is processed either through our cognitive, emotional or spiritual selves, which makes mental well-being both a matter of health and a matter of faith.
In The Social Principles, mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (¶162.1). Though the social principles don't mention mental health needs such as therapy, exercise, hydration and rest, the principles do point out that a lack of mental health-or the presence of mental illness-can affect the way someone processes information, relates to others, and chooses their actions, causing distress, stigma and isolation.
The United Methodist Church believes that persons with mental illness, as well as their families, have the right and responsibility to obtain appropriate care for their conditions. The denomination also holds firm that people with mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of violence than they are the perpetrators of violence.
"No person deserves to be stigmatized because of mental illness... When stigma happens within the church, mentally ill persons and their families are further victimized. Persons with mental illness and their families have a right to be treated with respect on the basis of common humanity and accurate information" (¶162.6, 9-10).
Because of its importance on all aspects of life, Say So has collected some resources available through the UMC to address questions and concerns regarding mental health. Use these resources as a starting point for learning about mental health.
What does the Bible say about mental health?
- God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
- Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28)
- Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
- But the Lord says, “Because the poor are oppressed, because of the groans of the needy, I’m now standing up. I will provide the help they are gasping for. (Psalm 12:5)
- I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rules, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. (Romans 8:38-39)
- I came that you might have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
- 1 in 5 American adults experience mental illness in a given year; 1 in 25 have severe symptoms.
- Only 41% of adults with mental illness sought care. 63% of adults with a serious mental illness received mental health services in the last year.
- An average of 43% of teens experience mental illness at some point during their teen years; 21% have severe symptoms.
- 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people 15-24.
- 1 in 4 people who experience mental illness will be a victim of violence.
- A 2011 study from Baylor University showed mental illness in 27 percent of families in churches. Researchers found that help with mental illness was a priority for those families affected by it, but virtually ignored by others in the congregation.
- Take action for justice…
- Remind your elected officials that individuals and families experiencing mental illness form a sizable and vulnerable population in your community. Those dealing with mental illness benefit from public health services, community health initiatives, and having thoughtful advocates that listen to their needs. Programs at the community, state, and federal level help individuals in coping with mental illness and provide assistance to families.
- Learn more about how mental illness affects your community, and about how to support public and private resources for those struggling with mental illness through National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org/faithnet) and Pathways (http://pathways2promise.org).
- Make a commitment to implement the Caring Congregations program in your church. Look for more resources through Mental Health Ministries at www.mentalhealthministries.net.
Christians are called to offer healing and compassion to all those who suffer whether their pain is physical, emotional or mental in nature. The United Methodist Church is committed to helping persons experiencing mental illness while promoting good mental health for all people. The Church’s witness takes many forms of advocacy, education, healing, prayer and self-care. Below are a number of resources to help churches along in their mental health ministries.
- Social Principles: Mental Health (Book of Discipline) | http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/the-social-community#mental-health
- 10 ways church leaders can support people with mental illnesses (Interfaith Network on Mental Illness) | https://www.resourceumc.org/en/content/10-ways-church-leaders-can-support-people-with-mental-illnesses
- Breaking the taboo: How the church can help people with mental illness (United Methodist Communications) | http://www.umcom.org/learn/breaking-the-taboo-how-the-church-can-help-people-with-mental-illness
- Church-Level Mental Health Promotion (Global Ministries) | http://umcabundanthealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/02-Church-Level-Activities-for-Mental-Health-Promotion.pdf
- Creating Caring Congregations - Five Step Program (Mental Health Ministries) | http://www.mentalhealthministries.net/resources/caring_congregations_model.html
- Self-Reflection Circles Mental Health Activity (Global Ministries) | http://umcabundanthealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/07-Mental-Health-Activity.pdf
- Mental Health Basics (Global Ministries) | http://umcabundanthealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/08-Mental-Health-Basics.pdf
- Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders (American Psychiatric Association) | http://inmi.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Mental-Health-Guide-Tool-Kit_finalV2.pdf
- Mental Health Resources for Faith Community Leaders, Staff and Members (Interfaith Network on Mental Illness) | http://inmi.us/resources
- Mental Health First Aid Training | https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org
- Worship Resources (Mental Health Ministries) | http://www.mentalhealthministries.net/resources/worship_resources.html
- Preaching on Mental Health by the Rev. Shane Moore (Pacific Northwest Annual Conference) | http://mentalhealthministries.net/resources/articles/Preaching/Preaching_on_Mental_Health_Moore.pdf
Additional Support Resources
- Interfaith Network on Mental Illness | http://inmi.us
- Mental Health Ministries | http://www.mentalhealthministries.net/index.html
- National Suicide Prevention 800-273-TALK | https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- National Institute of Mental Health | https://www.nimh.nih.gov