Beyond Support Groups by LifeSupport Resources

Group of men talking mental health strategy


5 strategies for mental health ministry

Don’t get us wrong, support groups are an excellent and proven care strategy.  But, there are many other essential elements to an effective mental health ministry. These 5 strategies for mental health ministry can help you move beyond groups.

Be Ready For The Mess

Mental illness WILL come through the doors of your church.  The questions you should be discussing with your team are:

  • Are we prepared to recognize when someone needs our help?
  • Does everyone here know that it’s okay to not be okay at church?

Create Opportunities To Share

We are designed to do life in relationship with others.  Part of doing life is sharing the struggle, pain, and healing of mental illness as a normal part of life. Do you have strategies to help people connect authentically beyond Sunday morning, and small groups? Some individual or team on your staff should own responsibility for making sure these strategies are happening.

Model Transparency

If they never see the Pastor hurting and vulnerable, we can hardly blame them for hiding their own pain. When that happens, someone has failed.  Hope can start for someone when they hear a leader open up about a personal struggle, and share the path they took through thier own mess.  We have witnessed this kind of inspired hope in hundreds of healing people.  Do you have a process/stragtegy for your ministry leaders to share their stories with each other and the church?

Communicate a Theology of Suffering

People see suffering in the world and in their own lives and they want explanations.  You’d better be prepared with some answers(*see # 5).  It’s easy to forget that the folks in the pews might not have a deep understanding of God’s plan, or the depth of pain that was present in the life of Christ.  Whenever possible, equip them with honest (and encouraging) truth about the suffering that is part of God’s story, and of our redemption.

Learn To Partner Well

You can’t have all the answers.  In most areas (and certainly online) there are good and caring Christian mental health professionals. Build relationships with a few.  Invite them to your church to get to know the family a bit.  Bring them in for a staff lunch or ask them for a presentation on a topic you might need help with.  Whether they admit or not, your church family experiences the same wide variety of mental health issues as the rest of the world and some of them are going to have pretty specific support needs. You’re probably going to need more than one or two professionals on your contact list.  Once you’ve identified plenty of professional care-givers, create a plan for referral; what triggers a referral, who’s responsible for the referral and for follow-up, how do you coordinate care with the mental health professional.

Want To Go Beyond 5 Strategies For Mental Health Ministry?

Christian therapist Jenita Pace of Three Rivers Counseling provides some specific steps to remodel your church to embrace care for mental health.  Read her thoughts here.

If you need more information about strategies for mental health ministry,  please contact us through this site and we’ll provide whatever help we can.

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