One of the most impactful things that can be done to reduce the stigma of mental illness is to hear the story of a person who has “lived experience,” and how he or she moved on to recovery. When a mental illness story is coupled with the spiritual wisdom gained because of the illness, the testimony becomes a teaching tool for your entire faith community. Such testimonies give the Church insight into practical help for individuals and families with mental illness, and also reveal much about God’s character and love that can only be learned through this particular type of suffering.
An excellent mental health testimony video can be created by asking a few questions and recording the responses, in interview style.
Some important things to remember
1. Choose a person to interview who has recovered or is in recovery, and is comfortable talking about his/her illness. You want someone who has accepted mental illness as part of his/her life, and has learned from it.
2. The person interviewed should keep responses positive and factual. Difficult events or relationships should be described briefly, without blaming or attacking others.
3. The person interviewed should speak to what happened spiritually as a result of the illness and recovery.
4. Keep the video brief, preferably 5 - 7 minutes or less.
A Few Questions
Asking a few questions can reveal powerful insights into the lives of people with lived mental illness experience. Here are some suggestions:
1. Tell me a little about yourself: where you grew up, what you do for a living.
2. Tell me a little about your illness, including your diagnosis, and where you are in your recovery.
3. What has been really helpful in your recovery?
4. How has your faith helped your recovery? Has the Church been helpful?
5. What surprising good things have happened because of your mental illness?
6. What are some things that the Church could have done better during your illness and recovery?
7. What are some things you wish people in the Church could understand about mental illness?
8. What three things can the Church do to help someone with mental illness?
The video should communicate well, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to make an impact. Nearly everyone has a cell phone with a camera. Here’s an example of a video recorded at my own church a couple of years ago.
Hearing another’s struggle may help a viewer identify their own mental health issues. Talking openly about mental illness gives other people permission to talk about their own struggles. Speaking openly and factually about mental illness reduces stigma. Reducing stigma reduces the time from recognition of symptoms to proper diagnosis and treatment.
It Was Jesus' Idea First
Jesus said in Revelation 12:11 that believers overcome our earthly struggles by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Our stories matter, because transparency about our struggles helps others see the possibilities for their own lives and understand the gospel in fresh new ways.
Key Ministry offers a form to share your mental health story on our website. Visit this link to read others’ stories and share your own.