If someone in your family were contending with a significant mental illness, where would you turn for help? Ask the members of your congregation, and you’ll probably hear they’d reach out to your church’s leadership. Do you know what to do … or where to turn … when a church member pulls you aside and shares a problem?

The CDC says nearly a quarter of Americans are affected by mental disorders in any given year, and almost half of U.S. residents will grapple with mental illness at least once during their lives. Far too many of those people never receive treatment for their conditions because they aren’t sure what resources are available or are too ashamed to ask for help.

The good news is that individuals with a connection to a church are more likely to reach out to a pastor before they say anything to their medical doctor or a mental health professional. That means your church can play a lead role in guiding people to the care they need.

Often, they don’t realize the depth of their issues. They’re not likely to walk up to you and say, “I believe I’m suffering from clinical depression.” But they will tell you they feel sad or hopeless, that they’re having trouble sleeping or remembering important information. When you recognize the symptoms of mental illness, you make it easier for members to find the resources to address their issues. What’s more, when you suggest counseling, they’re more likely to follow through because they value your perspective.

Care to Change is happy to partner with churches to provide counseling and other mental health services to their members. We can even structure arrangements through which members of your congregation can receive services at a discount. We’d welcome the opportunity to sit down with you and discuss ways the Care to Change team can support your church.

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Danielle Huff is Care to Change’s human resource coordinator, and leads our care and celebration committee

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