The Intersection of Faith Communities and Mental Health

The Intersection of Faith Communities and Mental Health

By Cathy Murphy, Director of Community Outreach

Many people with mental health conditions, including suicide risk, often turn first to their faith community for help. On Thursday, March 30th the North Fulton Mental Health Collaborate will lead a panel discussion surrounding mental health and the important role of our faith communities.

Spirituality and Mental Health

Many turn to their faith community for support in dealing with mental health problems. Supportive relationships, such as family, long-term friendships and meaningful connections through faith can be important to building resilience and well-being. Faith communities can also play a key role in educating their members about mental health problems.

Culture and Mental Health

Culture can provide a lens for how people think about mental health and how people and mental health professionals interact with one another. Racial and ethnic minorities bear a greater burden from unmet mental health needs due to the stigma surrounding mental health in their culture. There is also a racial/ethnic inequity within the mental health workforce. Just this month, Rep. Michelle Au, D-Johns Creek, was able to get a last-minute amendment to H.B. 520 that would require a workforce study commission to examine cultural competence and language to better understand how the state can meet the mental health needs of Georgia’s diverse population.

How can Faith Communities address these issues and minister to those in need?

Educate your communities and congregations. Promote awareness by educating the members of your communities and congregations about mental health issues through educational forums and other opportunities.

  • Invite local mental health experts—including those who have experienced mental illness—to speak with your congregation or at community gatherings.
  • Share facts and common myths about mental health.
  • Organize additional meetings, dinners, or other gatherings for members of your congregation or community to have conversations about mental health.

Identify opportunities to support people with mental illnesses. Religious organizations can play an important role in supporting individuals living with mental illnesses and encouraging them to seek help.

  • Consider offering your organization’s meeting spaces for community conversations and support groups focused on addressing mental health issues.
  • Provide space for peer-led groups that give people the chance to tell their stories in their own time and way.
  • Support community programs (for example: peer mentoring programs or opportunities for volunteering) that encourage social participation and inclusion for all people

Connect individuals and families to help. Strengthen the connections within your community to mental health services and support and enhance linkages between mental health, substance abuse, disability, and other social services.

  • Learn the basic signs of mental illnesses and other facts about mental health to encourage those in need to seek help.
  • Remind others that people can and do recover from mental health challenges and that help is available and effective.
  • Train key community members (such as adults who work with the children, youth, older adults, veterans, and LGBTQIA) to identify the signs of depression and suicide and refer people to resources.
  • Develop relationships with local mental health service providers and other family and youth organizations to help direct individuals and families in need to available services and support in the community.

Promote acceptance of those with mental health issues. The voices of leaders and members of faith-based organizations can greatly influence attitudes about mental health conditions and those who experience them.

  • Talk about your own mental health openly.
  • Be an example of taking good care of your mental health by making mental wellness a priority in your personal life.
  • Be inclusive. Mental health affects all of us.
  • Foster opportunities to build connections with individuals and families dealing with mental health challenges through trust and acceptance.
  • Foster safe and supportive environments for people to openly talk about mental health, stress, trauma, and related issues.

Join us on Thursday, March 30th from 10:00-11:30am at Alpharetta FUMC, 69 North Main St., Alpharetta to be a part of this important discuss. Learn more about the event and our panelists on our website at

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