The American Psychiatric Association Foundation has produced two new resources to help faith leaders better understand mental illness and treatment, and better help individuals and families in their congregations facing mental health challenges, Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders and a companion two-page Quick Reference on Mental Health for Faith Leaders. These resources are the culmination of work from the Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership, a collaboration of psychiatrists and faith leaders representing diverse faith traditions.
Many people facing a mental health challenge, personally or with a family member, turn first to a faith leader. And for many receiving psychiatric care, religion and spirituality are an important part of healing. In their role as "first responders," faith leaders can help dispel misunderstandings, reduce stigma associated with mental illness and treatment, and help access to treatment for those in need. The Guide and Quick Reference provide faith leaders with the knowledge, tools and resources to support that role.
The Guide includes a general overview of mental health and mental illness and information on how faith leaders can support people with mental health challenges. For example, it discusses how to create a more inclusive and welcoming community, when and how to make a referral to professional mental health services, and ways to deal with resistance to accepting mental health treatment. The one page Quick Reference Guide is included.