We pledge to foster polices that promote compassion, advocate access to care, and eradicate stigma.
Health is whole. It is a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being. The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
No person deserves to be stigmatized because of mental illness.United Methodist Social Principles, ¶163.X
Mental illness impairs these abilities. The connections between body, spirit and mind are complex. New discoveries are emerging daily that mental illnesses are physical illnesses impacted by brain physiology. The United Methodist Church therefore strongly advocates for parity in access, insurance coverage, and service quality between health care for mental health services and health care for all other medical conditions.
But because mental illnesses impact how we process information, manage emotions and make decisions, they impact who we appear to be and incite stigma and shame. According to the WHO’s World Mental Health Survey, one in four people across the globe will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
What the Bible and The United Methodist Church Say:
First and foremost, the United Methodist Church affirms Romans 8:38-39: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Scripture calls us to bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2) Our Social Principles remind us, and “No person deserves to be stigmatized because of mental illness.” (Social Principles, ¶162.X) And so we believe that each of us must work to remove the stigmas around mental health.
“The United Methodist Church pledges to foster policies that promote compassion, advocate for access to care, and eradicate stigma within the church and communities.” (Social Principles, ¶162.X)
Three Things You Can Do:
- Work to reduce stigma around mental illness. Ask a pastoral counselor in your community, or a local leader of National Alliance on Mental Illness to talk to your church group about mental illness and how churches can be supportive.
- Implement the Caring Congregations program in your church.
- Plan a worship service or adult education session in May, Mental Health Awareness Month.