ELCA’s social statement on mental illness

While reading a Lutheran magazine, I saw this social statement mentioned. So I googled it and read the document here.

Here are some quotes from the statement and my thoughts on them.

“A study by ELCA found 16 percent of male clergy and 24 percent of female clergy to be suffering from depression.”  I used to know a pastor who struggled with depression.  She didn’t tell her congregation which concerned her doctor.  Who can a pastor go to if he/she needs counseling and/or support?  I know that my church synod provides spiritual guides for our pastors but I think we as church members need to show our pastors that we are open to supporting them in whatever they struggle with.  No pastor should struggle with depression without support from his/her congregation members.

“The Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that from 2007-2009, mental health services were needed, but not received, by about 11.3 million adults annually.”  

“The ways in which people find their access is limited are too many to count.  To someone who is struggling to function at a minimal level, negotiating these obstacles is simply overwhelming.”  I remember when I started seeing a therapist.  There was confusion on whether the counselor was in my insurance’s network even though I found her through a referral from the Employee Assistance Program as required by my insurance.  The “case manager” who gave me the referral information gave me a bunch of phone numbers and therapist names.  I didn’t know the name of the overall place or anything.  I was very embarrassed by the need to have the receptionist repeat the message in order to figure out who I was calling.  Then my need to keep my hours up at work in order to keep the health insurance made it hard to schedule appointments.

“More than three quarters of the countries in the US experience severe shortages of mental health providers, and the more rural the county, the more likely this is the case.”  I had trouble believing this statement.  So, I googled it.  Here is one site that I found that talks about this problem.

“Yet the presence of mental illness is not a sign that one person is more sinful than another, or closed off to the possibility of grace, is weak, or lacks faith.”   We all struggle with sin and feel weak in faith at times.  However, some times fellow Christians may teach that fear or anxiety is a sign of lack of faith and trust in God.  I do agree that faith and trust in God helps to lesson one’s fears and anxieties.  However, some people’s nervous system is more reactive to situations in their lives.  So, that person may feel more fear and anxiety than another even though he/she is using good coping techniques and trusting God as best as he/she can.

“Rather than imputing mental illness to the character of the person experiencing it, Christians might properly describe the presence of mental illness in creation as a sign of ‘life’s tragic brokenness.’  All humans are finite and all live under the brokenness of sin.  Mental illness is simply a sign of the reality.”  I think this is a wonderful way to end a post on the topic of Christianity and mental illness.  Please, reach out to those of us who struggle with mental illness when you see us at your local church.  Try to let those around you know that you are open to hearing about how your fellow Christians are struggling.    

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2 responses to “ELCA’s social statement on mental illness

  1. thanks for blogging on this. This is a very important issue and one that I don’t think gets as much understanding as it should in the Church.
    I am a little surprise and then not so surprised by the proportion of clergy with depression. It is very important that clergy have appointed mentors. But it is really great when you see the congregation supporting their clergy spiritually and emotionally through hard times.

    Your second to last point really said a lot for me at the moment. I am in the midst of a very stressful situation at the moment. We prayed deeply about it at church on Sunday, which gave me the strength to act. But did not remove the anxiety. So bless you for reminding me that my anxiety is a symptom of how my nervous symptom deals with stress and that it over reacts in these situations. And that it is not a sign of the absence of God’s grace. Well, we prayed that I would be surrounded by people that would support me and that prayer is certainly being answered. Yourself included. God bless.

    So yes, if people can start to understand mental illness as illness in the same way as conditions like diabetes and heart disease – where our bodies react in different ways to different situations, which we need to manage carefully – then we will be long way ahead.

  2. Pingback: “Social Integration of People with Serious Mental Illness…” NIH Public Assess « www.HumansinShadow.wordpress.com·

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