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The Challenge


The Challenge

Mental health impacts nearly every area of society and culture. Because it has such a wide-reaching impact, it can be a challenge to address mental health effectively.

Mental health and addiction touches virtually every area of American and global culture including:

  • Family brokenness
  • Toxic relationships
  • The masculinity debate
  • Gun control measures
  • Crisis at the border
  • Global tension and trauma
  • Prison reform
  • Mass shootings
  • Longevity of life
  • Heart attack recovery
  • Suicide
  • Military PTSD
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Sports performance and psychology
  • Autism
  • Dementia
  • Oppositional Defiance Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Device addiction
  • Pornography and sexual addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Gaming addiction
  • Tobacco addiction
  • Alcohol and drug addiction
  • Abuse and violence
  • Homelessness
  • … and more

The Opioid Epidemic

The opioid epidemic continues to be an issue today after the White House in 2017 named it as a public health emergency. The treatment of this crisis, along with dozens of other mental health and addiction issues presents numerous challenges, some of which are:

  • U.S. overdose deaths hit record 93,000 in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic(1)
  • Nearly 841,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose(1)
  • Opioids—mainly synthetic opioids (other than methadone)—are currently the main driver of drug overdose deaths. 72.9% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involve synthetic opioids(1)

The Need for Faith-based Mental Health Care

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased demand for faith-based mental health services, on top of already present mental health and addiction crisis, which presents numerous challenges, some of which are:

  •  Eradicating the silence, shame, and stigma of mental health issues in the Church and in culture
  •  The lack of providers and access to care
  •  The massive “faith gap” between those seeking care and those providing care
  •  The need for collaborative and strategic leadership
  •  The glaring need for mental health care parity
  •  The need for ongoing research on evidence-based care and treatment

The Mental Health Crisis and the Position of the Church 

Religious congregations are often the first, and at times, the only point of contact for people seeking help for mental illness. As such, churches play a crucial role in providing potential support and connections to professional treatment.The American Psychiatric Association recognized the important of the church and the role faith leaders play in the healing process. “Because religion and spirituality often play a vital role in healing, people experiencing mental health concerns turn first to a faith leader. From a public-health perspective, faith community leaders are gatekeepers or ‘first responders’ when individuals and families face mental health or substance use problems. In that role they can help dispel misunderstandings, reduce stigma associated with mental illness and treatment, and facilitate access to treatment for those in need” (2).



Sources:

  1. 1. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2020. Available at https://wonder.cdc.gov.
  2. 2. American Psychiatric Association Foundation: Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association Foundation, 2016.