Mental Illness Awareness Week
By Lynn Swedberg*
September 22, 2011—Mental illness is often a hidden disability, so few congregations are aware of the persons in their pews who are affected, either directly or as family members of those living with mental illness.
According to current statistics from The National Institute of Mental Health, in any given year 26 percent of adults will have a mental illness; about 6 percent of the population will have a serious, debilitating illness. The lifetime prevalence for all mental disorders is 46 percent.
Family members, friends, and employers are all impacted by an individual’s mental illness.
In recognition of the upcoming Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 2 – 8) the United Methodist Task Force on Disability Ministries, a program of UMCOR Health, is offering churches resources they can use and that can help improve their ability to recognize mental illness and increase responsiveness to it.
The task force’s mission is to lead The United Methodist Church, through advocacy, education and empowerment, to help create a culture where people with all types of disabilities are fully included in all aspects of worship, leadership and ministry.
We publish a monthly electronic newsletter, The VOICE of the United Methodist Disability Connection. The September issue deals with homelessness, a phenomenon which is often related to mental illness.
The task force also maintains a growing website with practical information, models, and links to help churches become more accessible and inclusive in all aspects of their lives and ministries. Another excellent resource is Mental Health Ministries, administered by the Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder, a United Methodist pastor.
*Lynn Swedberg, MS, OTR/L, serves as a consultant for the United Methodist Task Force on Disability Ministries