“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.” Isaiah 40: 1
Presbyterian Mental Health Initiative
The 223rd General Assembly (2018) adopted a mental health initiative (Item 10-11) on the tenth anniversary of the adoption of Comfort My People: A Policy Statement on Serious Mental Illness (2008). It was referred to Compassion, Peace & Justice Ministry (CPJ) in the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) for implementation. The initiative called for: (1) a churchwide survey, (2) a new grant program, (3) a new churchwide mental health network, (4) a successor to Comfort My People, and (5) a report with follow-up recommendations to the next General Assembly. In February 2020, the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board voted unanimously to forward On Furthering Mental Health Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the next General Assembly for action.
Mental Health Ministry Grant Program
All PCUSA congregations, mid-councils and seminaries are eligible to apply for one-time ‘seed’ grants to initiate or advance projects that will educate, equip, and empower churches to reach out to, and with, people with mental health issues and their loved ones. The goal is to expand mental health awareness and understanding of mental health, eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness, and expand the capacity of churches to engage in mental health ministries. More information and application materials.
Churchwide Mental Health Study
A churchwide survey of five demographic groups (person-in-pew, church leaders, ministers, mid-councils, seminaries) was conducted in fall 2019 to get a picture of mental health ministry across the PCUSA and gain a better understanding of knowledge and attitudes about mental health and mental illness. There was strong participation, with 6,000 responses, nearly 4,000 from ministers, and 2,000 individual comments. Overall, the survey found that respondents want to address issues of mental health, but many do not feel equipped and want to learn more. Survey findings formed the basis of the follow-up recommendations contained in the report going to the next General Assembly: On Furthering Mental Health Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Findings for each demographic group:
- Mental Health Summary
- Person in the Pew
- Church on the Corner
- Mid Council
- Minister Survey
- Follow-up Report: On Furthering Mental Health Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Churchwide Mental Health Network
This network will be a hub for connection, support and sharing of resources among individuals, congregations, mid councils and seminaries engaged in mental health ministry. It is envisioned that the network will outlast the two-year Mental Health Initiative and become an ongoing resource to the denomination.
There are several ways you can get involved now:
- Please complete this network sign-up form to be added to the network email list and receive communications about the network as it develops.
- Browse this website for more information and resources to use and share with others.
- Leave a message or share a story about mental health ministry here.
- Consider applying for a mental health ministry grant.
Successor to Comfort My People: A Policy Paper on Serious Mental Illness
Based on a review, a new resource for inspiring and equipping congregations, mid-councils, and seminaries to engage in mental health ministry is needed. The successor will need to be more web-based and consider findings from the churchwide mental health survey along with current needs and circumstances.