Families Can Help Their Churches Learn More About Depression

Attention: open in a new window. PDFPrintE-mail

churchThose who are deeply grounded in faith traditions often look to their religious leaders and fellow parishioners for support.  It is crucial for these communities to provide it—especially when families are dealing with depressive disorders. A recent Baylor University study surveyed nearly 6,000 Protestant churchgoers in 24 different churches.  According to a press release, co-author Dr. Diana Garland reports that, “Families with mental illness stand to benefit from their involvement within a congregation, but our findings suggest that faith communities fail to adequately engage these families because they lack awareness of the issues and understanding of the important ways that they can help.”

Families for Depression Awareness spoke to Reverend Robert Dell, Chair of Pathways to Promise—Ministry and Mental Illness, about how parishioners can help their church community be more aware of depressive disorders.

He suggests that you:

  • Find a time to approach your pastor
  • Tell him/her your story—Is your son suffering from depression?  Has your wife recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder?  Is your family not affected but you know a fellow church family that is?
  • Explain your desire to receive support from your faith community
  • Ask to make educational materials available through church bulletin boards, newsletters, program inserts, and/or the church website
  • Ask your pastor if s/he will do a special pastoral prayer on the subject of mental health
  • Start a book study group using relevant texts (e.g., Souls in the Hands of a Tender God)
  • Invite speakers from local mental health organizations to give a presentation about mental health at the church

Rev. Dell also encourages clergy members to get educated.  The Pathways to Promise website offers several resources on the subjects of reaching out to families, facilitating referrals, and appropriate responses to symptomatic behavior.

Clergy and lay people alike can make a difference in the lives of people coping with these issues.

Family Profiles

"Like" FamilyAware.org