“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.” Isaiah 40: 1
A churchwide mental health initiative (Item 10-11) was adopted by the 223rd General Assembly in 2018. It called for: (1) a new grant program, (2) a new churchwide mental health network, (3) a churchwide survey of mental health ministry, (4) review and update of Comfort My People: A Policy Paper on Serious Mental Illness (2008), (5) ta report with follow-up recommendations to the 2020 General Assembly. In February 2020, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board voted unanimously to forward the resulting report: On Furthering Mental Health Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA), to the 2020 General Assembly (now deferred to 2022). The grant program and Associate for Mental Health Ministry staff position have now been extended into 2021/2022.
Mental Health Ministry Grant Program
All PCUSA congregations, mid-councils and seminaries are eligible to apply for one-time ‘seed’ grants to initiate projects that will help educate, equip, and empower churches to reach out to, and with, people with mental health concerns and their loved ones. The goal is to expand mental health awareness and understanding, end stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and expand the capacity of ministers and congregants to engage in mental health ministry. Please note: Funding cannot be used for degree program scholarships, permanent staff positions, or subsidizing individual counseling sessions. Entities (not individuals) are eligible to apply. More information and application materials.
Presbyterian Mental Health Network (PMHN)
PMHN is a new churchwide independent grass roots network launched with the support of a mental health ministry grant. Its purpose is to facilitate networking, conversation, and the sharing of stories and models for mental health ministry across the church. The PCUSA Associate for Mental Health Ministry collaborates closely with this developing network.
PMHN hosted its first webinar on Sept 30, 2020: Spiritual and Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19.
You can sign up to receive updates from the PCUSA Office of Mental Health Ministry and also be added to the mailing list for PMHN by completing this one-stop network sign-up form.
Resources for Mental Health Ministry
Currently there are three curated collections of resources to support you in mental health ministry, which continue to be updated as new resources are identified or developed. These are designed for individual use, also by leadership in mental health ministry.
- Mental Health Ministry Resources (selected downloadable resources and links to key sites for ongoing reference)
- COVID-19 Mental Health Resources (categories: helplines, everyone, families, children & youth, specific diagnoses/populations, resources to inspire)
- Race and Culture Mental Health Resources (categories: racialized trauma, pathways to culturally appropriate resources grouped by community)
- Comfort My People: A Policy Paper on Serious Mental Illness (2008) was developed by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy and has been a seminal document in mental health ministry for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The mental health initiative has called for its review and update.
PCUSA Churchwide Mental Health Survey
In October 2019, five demographic groups (person-in-pew, church leaders, ministers, mid-councils, seminaries) were surveyed to develop a churchwide picture of mental health ministry in the PC(USA). There were 6000 respondents, including nearly 4000 ministers. Overall, the survey found that respondents want to address issues of mental health. However, many do not feel equipped and want to learn more. Survey findings formed the basis of the follow-up recommendations in: On Furthering Mental Health Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Results from Presbyterian Research Services for each demographic group: