Since 1949, the United States has observed Mental Health Awareness Month in May. This provides an opportunity for the church to talk about an important topic that affects people more than we often realize.
“Depression was once a topic reserved for ‘other people,’” Lifeway President and CEO Thom S. Rainer wrote in a Facts & Trends issue on mental health. “The truth is, pastors are as likely as other Americans to experience mental illness.”
Pastors, church leaders, church members, visitors on Sunday, and guests in your small group could all be suffering from a mental illness.
Here are 13 statistics from several Lifeway Research studies that may help you better understand the issue and the people in your church.
- 23 percent of pastors acknowledge they have personally struggled with a mental illness.
- 49 percent of pastors say they rarely or never speak to their congregation about mental illness.
- 27 percent of churches have a plan to assist families affected by mental illness.
- 65 percent of churchgoing family members of those with mental illness want their church to talk openly about mental illness.
- 59 percent of those actually suffering from mental illness say the same.
- 53 percent of churchgoers with mental illness say the church has been supportive.
- 76 percent of churchgoers say suicide is a problem that needs to be addressed in their community.
- 32 percent of churchgoers say a close acquaintance or family member has died by suicide.
- 80 percent of pastors say their church is equipped to assist someone who is threatening to take his or her own life.
- 92 percent of pastors say their church is equipped to care for the family that experiences the suicide of a loved one.
- 4 percent of churchgoers who lost a loved one to suicide say church leaders were aware of their loved one’s struggles.
- 68 percent of Americans feel they would be welcome in church if they were mentally ill.
- 35 percent of Americans say mental illness could be overcome with Bible study and prayer alone.
- Getting Beyond the Stigma of Mental Illness
- Breaking the Silence: How Your Church Can Respond to Mental Illness
- Pastors Experience Depression, Too
- Isn’t It Time We Talked About Mental Health?
- How Can Churches Prevent Suicides?
- Half of Evangelicals Believe Prayer Can Heal Mental Illness
- 1 in 4 Pastors & Congregants Suffer From Mental Illness