Christ on the Psych Ward for Your Congregation or Community
Want to use Christ on the Psych Ward as an educational resource for your congregation, community, or small group?
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For People in Crisis
If you or someone else is experiencing a medical emergency and their life is in immediate danger, call 911.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. The Lifeline now also has an online chat option.
You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.
For LGBTQ+ Youth: The Trevor Project provides phone, chat, and text support. Click here for the website, call 866-488-7386, or text 1-202-304-1200.
For transgender individuals: The Trans Lifeline offers support for transgender people by transgender people. Call 877-565-8860 in the U.S. or 877-330-6366 in Canada, or click here for the website.
For veterans: Call 1-800-273-8255 and then Press 1; text 838255; or click here for online chat.
Educational and Practical Resources
Many denominations have begun developing mental health resources for use in congregations—check out the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network.
The American Psychiatric Association has a quick and helpful reference resource for pastors and faith leaders.
I highly recommend Mental Health First Aid training for anyone, but particularly for people like security guards, administrative assistants, church greeters, and others who often end up being “first on the scene” during mental health crises.
There are a number of organizations with peer-to-peer support groups, such as NAMI, Recovery International, and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance . NAMI also has a network specifically for faith communities called NAMI FaithNet. On many college campuses, Active Minds organizes student support and advocacy groups.
For congregations looking for practical models for ministry, I highly recommend Resurrecting the Person: Friendship and the Care of People with Mental Health Problems, by John Swinton. Sarah Griffith Lund’s Blessed Are the Crazy includes a step-by-step guide to starting a mental health ministry in your church. Rachael A. Keefe's The Life Saving Church: Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention, contains practical guidelines for churches to recognize and respond to those struggling with suicidal ideation and behavior. Tonya D. Armstrong's Blossoming Hope: The Black Christian Women's Guide to Mental Health and Wellness is a practical resource for African American Christian women in particular, and also has helpful tools and guidance for faith communities generally. Ministry with Persons with Mental Illness and Their Families, edited by Robert H. Albers, William H. Meller, and Steven D. Thurber, provides pastoral caregivers with a practical guide to the diagnostic categories used by modern day psychiatrists and psychotherapists.
In addition to Christ on the Psych Ward, there are any number of powerful accounts from people with mental health struggles and their family members. Titles that have been particularly helpful for me include: An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, by Kay Redfield Jamison; The Noonday Demon: AN Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon; Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family & Church, by Sarah Griffith Lund; Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression and Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith, both by Monica A. Coleman; and Seeing Beyond Depression, by Jean Vanier.
While not explicitly about mental illness per se, the writings of Dr. Brené Brown on shame, vulnerability, and owning our whole stories have been particularly meaningful and important for my journey.
A powerful liturgical resource for churches can be found in Stations of the Cross: Mental Illness, by Mary Button, available from Church Health Resources.
While I hope that Christ on the Psych Ward will be an important resource for those for whom faith can be a source of resilience and hope, it is also the case that many people experience hurt and trauma at the hands of religious leaders and/or religious communities. For those struggling with religious and spiritual trauma, an excellent resource is Sacred Wounds: A Path to Healing from Spiritual Trauma, by Teresa P Mateus (formerly Teresa B Pasquale).