A Day of Prayer for Mental Illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) designates the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week, and the Tuesday of that week as the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding. The date this year is Tuesday, October 5. (pdf)
NAMI is a grassroots advocacy organization with dozens of North Carolina affiliate groups, and it has a healthy respect for the role of faith communities in supporting the mentally ill. Clergy outnumber psychiatrists 10 to 1 in the United States, and clergy are more equitably distributed among the population than health professionals. Congregations are in a unique position to replace misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with truth and love. Families affected by mental illness are challenged by serious faith questions, and need the support of educated faith communities. For mental health counselors, understanding the faith orientation of a person living with mental illness can often be a key to healing and recovery.
NAMI’s website has a wealth of prayer and liturgical resources, as well as suggested readings and creative ideas for congregational responses to Mental Illness Awareness Week.
John James, M.A.
Clergy Health Initiative