In addition to celebrating Pentecost this Sunday, we will also be observing UCC’s
Mental Health Sunday.
“The magnitude of mental illness in this country is staggering. According to the Surgeon General, one in every five Americans experiences a mental disorder in any given year and half of all Americans have such disorders at some time in their lives. These illnesses of the brain affect all of us, regardless of age, gender, economic status or ethnicity. Mental illness affects the mind, body and the spirit. It is a real, common and treatable illness. Mental illnesses are far more common than cancer, diabetes, heart disease or arthritis” (from Mental Health Ministries; http://www.mentalhealthministries.net).
The UCC Mental Health Network exists “to reduce stigma and promote the inclusion of people with mental illnesses/brain disorders and their families in the life, leadership, and work of congregations.” Their mission is to educate congregations to Widen the Welcome to all, just as Jesus reached out to those people who were marginalized, ostracized, and considered to be the outcasts of society. Jesus brings comfort, love, understanding, support, and affirmation to everyone, and it is the Mental Health Network’s calling to help congregations be more like Jesus in Widening the Welcome to invite all who have been excluded from congregational life and ministry. (See https://www.mhn-ucc.org/).
Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, and the need for continuing education, compassionate outreach, and loving support and encouragement for congregants and their family members, as well as our friends and community members, I envision us including mental health in our church’s Peace and Justice Ministry. May our recognition of Mental Health Sunday be only the very beginning of including this very important aspect of our overall holistic health needs in our worship, faith formation, and spiritual nurture.