Our Mental Health Task Force is grateful for the authenticity and raw emotion expressed in the written reflections we received when we asked you, “What is it like…” to live with mental illness, to care for someone with mental illness, or to be a more supportive church community. Your responses were deeply moving, and we hope our worship presentation will accurately reflect what we heard and learned.

The United Church of Christ Mental Health Network offers the following suggestions for simple things we can all do to make the world a better place for people with mental illnesses and their families:

1. Be a friend
Provide companionship and compassion on the road toward recovery. Listen without judgment. Pray for those you know with mental illnesses and for their family members.

2. Be an inspiration
Share your story. Has mental illness impacted you or your family in some way? Your story may empower others to seek treatment or have hope.

3. Watch your language
Pay attention to the words you use and avoid stigmatizing labels. Do not refer to people as “crazy,” “psycho,” “lunatic,” or “mental.” Words matter. Words hurt.

4. Be a “StigmaBuster”
Challenge negative attitudes toward mental illness among your friends and in the media.

5. Learn the facts
Educate yourself. Ask questions. Listen. One in four adults in the U.S. experiences some kind of mental health disorder in a given year. Approximately 13.6 million people live with a serious illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

Check out www.namifoxvalley.org; www.samaritan-counseling.com; or www.MyConnectionNEW.org – just a few examples of places to find help, support groups and resources to better understand your own needs, or how to better support someone you love. There is hope. Especially when we know we’re not alone.

On behalf of our FCUCC Mental Health Task Force, Pastor Kathryn Kuhn

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