No one wants to think of themselves or their family as dysfunctional. And the mental image associated with the term special needs most definitely does not fit. Special needs seems like a suit that was tailored for someone else. But there are no other health conditions for which there are such lengthy delays in diagnosis and treatment solely because of denial. Ditching the camouflage that covers your minimized mental illness might be the best wardrobe decision you ever make.
There is no clear evidence growing up in a family with traditional religious beliefs related to sexual expression or attending a church espousing traditional beliefs makes kids any more likely to attempt or commit suicide and overwhelming evidence that teens who delay the onset of sexual activity - gay as well as straight - are much less likely to struggle with suicidal thoughts or behavior.
The Child Mind Institute has launched the #MyYoungerSelf campaign during Mental Health Month to counter the stigma for the 1 in 5 children struggling with these disorders. This May actors, athletes, social influencers, business people and others are sending a message of hope about their experiences growing up with a mental health or learning disorder. Here's a letter from the leader of our ministry team to an eleventh grade boy who was going through a difficult time.
EVIL is the root cause of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, and the shootings in churches in rural Texas, Nashville, and several years ago, at an historically African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina. As a society, we seek to minimize the existence of evil because recognition of evil threatens our shared delusion that any absolute standard of right and wrong exists.
A young wife and teacher nearly ends up dead after following the counsel of a pastor and his wife to stop taking psychiatric medications that were helping her to lead a productive life. This is spiritual abuse.
We need to reject the false gospel that the outcome of our efforts to obtain relief from the burden of mental illness for ourselves or our loved ones hinges not on our efforts to heal ourselves, but on God's mercy and grace. We also need to recognize that the ongoing presence of mental illness in ourselves, our friends and our family members may not be a barometer of faithfulness so much as a necessary step in the fulfillment of God's purposes.
Before launching the Ironbridge Baptist Church mental health pilot, I spent months talking and meeting with individuals of influence within the church community, many with ‘lived experience.’ The goal of such conversations was ultimately to generate support for the idea that we could - as a faith community - be much more upfront about the reality of mental illness, in all its various forms - and begin truly supporting one another.