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“God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.” — Psalm 47:5

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Presbyterian Serious Mental Illness Network

The Presbyterian Serious Mental Illness Network (PSMIN) welcomes those who advocate in the church and greater community with and for those who have been touched by mental illness. We work for equity, justice, human dignity and full acceptance, inclusion and participation in  the life of the church.

Join PHEWA and take part in this ministry

Download a PSMIN information card

Losing Faith, Finding Hope: A Journey With Depression

The Rev. Monica A. Coleman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Constructive Theology & African American Religions, Claremont School of Theology, writes & speaks about faith & depression.

Monica ColemanMany people describe depression as a kind of intense grief. It is a deep sadness. It's like heartbreak, agony and despair all at once. I think depression is worse than grief. Grief usually has an identifiable cause. There are stages. People understand why you are sad. It eases with time.

I find that depression is more like death. In every depressive episode, something is lost. Sometimes it's the belief that I'm not that sick. Sometimes it's a dream. Sometimes it's a concrete plan or goal. Sometimes it's who I desperately wanted and expected myself to be. Sometimes it's a harmful lie I've told myself, or that someone told me. Sometimes what dies, needed to go. Most times, it seems I would have been perfectly fine without the loss. I would smile more. I would know how I spent the hours in my day. I would see fewer doctors. When people ask me how I am doing, my response of "fine" would only be a lie thirty percent of the time. Like most people, right?

I have lived with a depressive condition since I was a teenager, although I didn't have a name for it until my 20s. I don't know how many lows I've had -- excluding the two suicidal bouts. I don't count how many times I've been sad and desperate for months. I don't make a list of what I've lost.

I do, however, remember when I lost my faith.

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White House Gun Task Force: NAMI Calls on President and Congress to "Do What's Right" for Mental Health Care

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2013 -- Michael J. Fitzpatrick , executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) met yesterday with Vice President Joseph Biden 's task force on gun control, along with other leaders of the mental health community, urging action to strengthen and expand mental health care services.

Learn more

Recommended by NAMI

Newtown shooting prompts calls for mental health reform

Advocates say the USA's mental health care system is broken. They're calling for more funding and new legislation to help protect both patients and the public.

Read the article on the USA Today website

Everyone at the Table

October Presbyterians Today coverSerious mental illness can devastate the affected individual, their family and their community.  While great strides have been made over the last 100 years, much remains to be done to ensure that every individual with a mood or thought disorder receives the treatment they need and the respect they deserve. The people who are currently reconstituting PHEWA’s Presbyterian Serious Mental Illness Network (PSMIN) are consumers and caregivers, professionals, and people who simply care. 

Part of PSMIN's new strategy involves the establishment of network chapters in congregations or presbyteries who sense a call to this ministry.  While a national steering team can do much in the way of resource development and advocacy, lives are touched and hope is reborn in supportive congregational settings

Presbyterians Today devotes October 2012 issue to challenges of mental illness

Presbyterians Today is the award-winning, general-interest magazine of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  Published 10 times a year, it explores practical issues of faith and life, tells stories of Presbyterians who are living their faith and covers a wide range of church news and activities. The October issue has been dedicated to an exploration of mental illness, and we are grateful that PSMIN members were invited to contribute to this edition.  

Presbyterians Today has graciously given us permission to make several articles from this issue available on the PSMIN/PHEWA websites.  To subscribe to Presbyterians Today, click here. Non-subscription single issues may be purchased through Presbyterian Distribution Services (PDS) at 1-800-524-2612. 

The Church that decided to do something

Church buildingIn 1999, Janet Martin of First Presbyterian Church, Danville, Illinois phoned the national offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), desperate for help.  She reached PHEWA. Her story was subsequently published in PHEWA's Presbyterians for Disability Concerns (PDC) newsletter.  Since that time, she and others in her congregation have come together to form "Comfort my people," an outreach and advocacy group with and for those with brain disorders, under the auspices of their Session's Witness Committee.  They have also decided to become PHEWA's first local PSMIN chapter.  The selection of "Comfort my people" for their group name came after studying the 2008 General Assembly document of the same title.  Also see Serious Mental Illness: Seeking a Comprehensive Christian Response; A PC(USA) Churchwide Study Document. Janet and other committee members are available for consultation with other congregations considering similar action.  They can be reached through the PHEWA Community email.

From the National Alliance on Mental Illness  

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2012:  October 7-13

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of the National Alliance on Mental Illness’s (NAMI's) efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since 1990, advocates around issues of mental illness across the country have joined together during the first full week of October in sponsoring many kinds of activities.

This year, the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012.

MIAW has become a NAMI tradition. It presents an opportunity to all across the country to work together in communities to achieve the NAMI mission through outreach, education, and advocacy.

The MIAW Idea Book suggests activities that can be incorporated into planning for the fall. Stickers, posters, and a web banner to use on websites or in documents are available for download in English and Spanish. Special resources for outreach to faith communities also can be downloaded from that page.  All resources are most useful throughout the year, even beyond this designated week (remembering that the month of May is considered mental health awareness month, as well). Use these MIAW resources in your mental illness ministry toward changing attitudes, changing lives!

3 Steps to a Mental Health Ministry

New from Pathways to Promise

For help in developing a mental health ministry in your congregation and community, go to the Pathways to Promise (P2P) site for their Mental Health Ministry Training resource site. Many resources in a variety of formats may be downloaded from this page.

You will find three downloadable presentations in various formats:

  • Mental Health 101:  An Introduction to Mental Health Ministry
  • Organizing a Mental Health Team in Your Congregation
  • Companionship:  A Ministry of Presence 

You will also find a PRESENTER'S GUIDE for each course to help you offer these trainings in your congregation. The presenter's guides may be used as a self-study by clergy and congregational leaders or as a small group resource for training mental health team members and companionship care teams.

You will also find:

  • Congregation Survey to help you identify mental health concerns and interests of your congregation
  • Mental Health Ministry - A Toolkit for Congregations to help you with practical activity
  • A Local Mental Health Training Cooperative describing how you can work with neighboring congregations and community allies to build a network of caring congregations

Pathways to Promise wants to know about your efforts. If you do a small study group or offer a presentation in your congregation, P2P would like to get copies of the survey and evaluation forms you use, along with your location and a list of the participants and their roles (clergy, laity, family member, peer, mental health provider, etc.)   This will help P2P evaluate and revise these trainings and develop additional resources.

Please send any correspondence to:

Pathways to Promise
5400 Arsenal St.
St. Louis, MO 63139

Reaching out to faith communities 

From NAMI FaithNet: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness NAMI FaithNet training modules

Reaching Out to Congregations is a four-part training tool provided by NAMI FaithNet, an educational outreach to faith communities of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.  The goal of Reaching out to Congregations is to better equip NAMI members and leaders to build bridges with local faith groups.  The content was written in response to common questions like:  Why should we reach out to faith communities?  How do we handle differing views of mental illness or stigmatizing remarks?  How do I get started?

The long-range goal of NAMI FaithNet outreach is to promote supportive faith communities where awareness, welcome, inclusion, support, and spiritual care for individuals and families facing mental illness is provided. 

Four Parts of Reaching out to Congregations

  • Laying the Foundation provides basic information about NAMI FaithNet, its interfaith dialogue approach and religious diversity.  This section also explains the value of outreach to congregations and the community impact of untreated mental illness. 
  • Opening the Door  explores the impact of mental illness on individuals and what basic spiritual care encompasses.  Suggestions are offered for starting informal conversations with people of faith and building advocacy, awareness, and support within a congregation.
  • NAMI FaithNet: Sharing Your Story provides training for those who want to more effectively tell their story about mental illness and the role of NAMI and the faith community in their journey. 
  • Looking Ahead & Following Up offers tips on the team approach and how to respond to stigmatizing remarks, differing beliefs, and other challenges unique to faith community outreach.

Reaching Out to Faith Communities is offered via PowerPoint and intended for self-study while viewing with the NOTES function.   While the four sections are designed to be used consecutively and as a whole, they each can be studied independently.  In addition, the material is also presented via a two-part webinar series. Support documents referenced in the curriculum are also included.  It is available on the NAMI FaithNet website.

PC(USA) policy statement on serious mental illness with study guide

Comfort My People

This policy approved by the 218th General Assembly (2008) uses the biblical theme of exile to describe the challenges experienced by persons living with a serious mental illness. Order from the Church Store.


Read personal stories of living with mental illness

My life as ministry

by Nancy Lee Head

Serving dinner to homeless women at Sarah House took on the same, awesome dimension for me that I would imagine serving the Lord's Supper to a congregation would be for an ordained minister. And washing the lice off of Ernestine's back with healing waters, in God's name, reminded me of God's grace just as I would imagine baptizing a child would for an ordained pastor.

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Created in the image of God

by Cathy Smith

I am a member and an elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I serve on the Task Force on Disability for the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area. I also have Bipolar I with psychotic features, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

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The Congregation: A Community of Care and Healing; Mental Illness Awareness Resources

While this 26 page basic resource manual was last updated in 2000 and is now out of print, this partnership between PSMIN, the then PC(USA) Office of Human Services, and Pathways to Promise contains much timeless information for getting started in this ministry on a congregational level.  Worship aids and education models for the congregation are included.


Read the PSMIN theological and scriptural statement

The source and ministry of PSMIN is in Jesus Christ. He healed mentally ill persons. Jesus called the sick to arise and to take part in their own healing. We are called into community with Jesus for healing, nurturing and enabling wholeness. By God’s grace, each of us helps to heal, nurture and make whole the community of believers.

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Visit these websites

Pathways to Promise

Pathways to Promise is an interfaith technical assistance and resource center which offers liturgical and educational materials, program models, and networking information to promote a caring ministry with people with mental illness and their families. The Presbyterian Church (USA) and PSMIN are partners in this vital ministry.

NAMI FaithNet

NAMI FaithNet is a network composed of members and friends of  National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). It facilitates the development within the Faith Community of a supportive environment for those with serious mental illness and their families, points out the value of one's spirituality in the recovery process, educates clergy and congregations, and encourages advocacy to bring about hope and help for all who are affected by mental illness.

Mental Health Ministries

Mental Health Ministries, a partner organization through Pathways to Promise, Mental Health Ministries is a good source of educational resources and worship aids  to use in efforts to erase the stigma of mental illness and help congregations effectively minister with people living with mental illness and their families and loved ones.