How Can You Help?
There are a great many things you can do to help the UCC Mental Health Network to erase discrimination, eradicate stigma, provide accurate information and share support. Please consider the following:
- Educate yourself. Gather accurate and current information about mental illnesses. Learn what severe mental illness is–and isn’t.
- Educate your congregation: Invite a speaker from a mental illness organization to talk with your church and community organizations. Or use the toolkits on this website to develop your own adult education program.
- Hold a class: Contact your local chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health Association, or local or state agency that works with people with mental illnesses to learn about classes in your area. Also look into classes offered by Mental Health First Aid.
- Support funding for research into severe mental illness. At present Americans are spending about the same amount to study tooth decay as for each American with schizophrenia or depression. Research money should not be siphoned off from other serious diseases, but mental illness needs to begin getting its fair share of attention from government agencies and private citizens.
- Advocate in your church, association, or conference for persons with serious mental illnesses. Use the resources on this website to learn how to widen your church’s welcome and provide support for persons with mental illnesses and their families.
- Join an advocacy group to better support mentally ill persons even if you don’t have an ill family member. Be alert to pending legislation regarding the disabled and mentally ill.
- Contact the governor and your state representatives to let them know you care about services for persons who are mentally ill.
- Be a STIGMA BUSTER. Object in writing and by telephone when media and gatherings stigmatize mental illness.
- Offer help to a family who is living with brain disease. Provide emotional support, understanding, perhaps sitting when needed.
- Do more than be friendly. BE A FRIEND to those who have no friends, for severe mental illness tends to isolate people. Include them in your outings, invite them to a ball game, out to eat after church, or accompany them to church activities.
- If you are an employer, hire persons with mental health challenges for suitable jobs. Their intelligence is not necessarily altered by the illness. (For private employers, there can even be tax advantages.)
- Volunteer your help in programs serving persons who are mentally ill.
- PRAY for persons who are mentally ill, for those who work to help them–both their families and professionals–and for a better understanding in your church of the concerns of people with mental illness.
- Start a spiritual support group for mental health and wellness.