May the Stigma End

There’s not much of May left, so I’m getting this in just under the wire! May is Mental Health Awareness month, signed into recognition by President Obama in 2013. I’ve written quite a bit about my own struggle with mental health here, and in my recently-released book, I touched on how growing up in a family affected by major depression eventually contributed to my calling as a hospital chaplain.

On June 19, I’ll have the honor of teaching a workshop at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Dallas, Texas. The title is “The Light Shines in the Darkness,” and my desire is to engage both clergy and lay leaders in a conversation about how our churches can do more to minister to families affected by mental illness. Since millions of Americans suffer from mental health disorders of varying degrees, no church or community is untouched by this issue. Yet unlike other health problems, there is still undue shame attached to mental illness, and those affected find themselves relegated to the shadows, afraid to step into the light. As my fellow author/blogger/young clergywoman Sarah Griffith Lund recently blogged, “There’s No Shame in Being Sick.” One way we can help is by talking openly about our own experiences with mental health disorders, offering hope that to others to let them know that they are not alone and that things can get better. Most mental illnesses can be treated and managed, but only if we acknowledge the need and seek treatment.

If you’re coming to CBF General Assembly in Dallas, I hope you’ll join me at 2:45pm on Friday, June 19. And for those who won’t be there, I’ll be blogging a shortened form of my presentation afterwards. I hope you’ll join the conversation, so that together we can help end the stigma of mental illness.

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