Janet Parshall issued a powerful call to the church to minister more effectively to persons with mental illness in this keynote presentation from Inclusion Fusion Live 2019, a national disability ministry conference hosted by Key Ministry. She identifies key biblical figures who experienced symptoms of mental illness, challenges church leaders to end their stigmatization of persons with mental health issues and pastors to begin addressing the topic in the course of their preaching.
When church leadership is approached about the need to create environments that can serve the needs of the disability and special-needs community, the most common response is a lack of education and lack of resources. In other words, there is no room in the budget, no room in the mission, no room in the vision of the church, and no room for discussion about disability theology.
Communication from one person to another is so fundamental that we assume all but the youngest children can understand what we say—and even what we mean—in our own language. But mental health conditions and high functioning autism often interfere with a person’s ability to communicate with others, much like living as a stranger in a strange land, speaking a foreign tongue.