During the month of August, we conducted a survey of Key Ministry's audience priorities for mental health ministry. We asked for your top five priorities out of 15 answer choices, and gave opportunity for additional comments. We received 56 responses—thanks to each one of you who responded! Here are the results:
Mental Health Ministry Survey Results - The Top 10
1 - If a teen has a mental health diagnosis, the parents are likely struggling to help their teen or with their own issues. How the faith community can support both.
2 -“There’s this kid” - How to approach a family when a child in Youth group or other program doesn’t have a diagnosis, but sure seems to fit known criteria (for ADHD, autism, etc). Flexible ministry planning to include the teen who doesn’t neatly fit the ministry model.
3 - Providing adult mentorship for students with high functioning autism. Related: intentional relationship building with ‘loners’ or people who are isolated.
4 - Training adults to be youth/teen mentors or buddies. Defining parameters for this service.
5 - Answering common questions about mental illness and faith (Example: Where is God in my mental health diagnosis?) Learning how to love well and forgive well (because mental health issues often require a lot of forgiveness.)
6 - Developing a process to get to know your church families: communications, signup forms, confidentiality issues. Creating an environment so they will confide what they are struggling with to get the right support.
7 - Training adults to be mentors or ‘buddies’ to youth group members with mental health needs.
8 - Bible study focus: praising God in the midst of a mental health diagnosis.
9 - Answers to dumb things people say to someone with a mental health diagnosis. (Just pray!)
10 - Families of teens often leave church if their teen is hurt at church. Tips for keeping families connected to faith communities when their kid is wounded. To include “Johnny” who has a diagnosis and is hurt by others, or “Janey” who does not have a diagnosis but is hurt by “Johnny.”
We also received 18 individual comments; more than 25% of them focused on secondary trauma in parents and families and caring for the caregiver of a child or adult with mental illness.
We are actively developing new ministry tools, and will use these results to help focus our priorities.
Mental Health Ministry Priorities
In November, we will host a video ministry roundtable discussion on mental illness, and anticipate a separate video roundtable monthly series for mental health ministry starting in 2019. Look for a link in one of our upcoming newsletters.
Finally, Key Ministry is participating in an important national discussion about mental illness and the church. More details will be shared soon, but pray for us and other like-minded individuals and ministries as we seek God’s leading to focus our efforts.