by Karen Kulm, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Vancouver, WA
Mental illness affects nearly 60 million Americans every year. One in four adults is affected at some point in their lifetime by a severe mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia. In fact, mental illnesses are more common than cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
People living with mental illness often feel isolated and alone. They need help, hope and a community that supports them and their family. Recovery is possible with medication and treatment. Faith and spirituality are essential elements of healing and recovery for many, yet many clergy and people of faith feel poorly equipped to provide appropriate support, education and assistance to persons living with mental illness.