Pastoral Care

Mental Illness: Out of the Shadows

All of us are touched in some way by people living with
serious mental health conditions. We experience it personally, in our families, through relationships at work, in the lives of friends, in our communities, and in our churches. If we are honest, we recognize that it can be difficult to respond in healthy ways that support others. How we respond can also be effected by common misconceptions, misinformation, and stigma surrounding mental health conditions. When we get broken bones, have heart trouble, or discover a cancer diagnosis, it is not unusual to get phone calls, prayer cards, casseroles, or visits. When we face a mental illness diagnosis, the response of friends, family, and, yes, the church, can range from uncomfortably mixed to palpably silent.


Thanks to the voices of advocates in our church and community, we can step out of the shadows and talk about mental illness. During the month of September, we look forward to learning new ways that we can work together to support and care for those suffering from serious mental health conditions in our families, our church, our community, and beyond. On September 27, in the Fellowship Hall, beginning at 6:00 pm, we will close the month by hosting a discussion about mental illness and the response of the church. We invite you to join us for this important discussion and to take time during the month of September to learn more about mental health care and advocacy in our community.

As part of our effort to step out of the shadows, our church has taken steps to partner with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (“NAMI”) through ministerial membership in Dekalb County NAMI and Gwinnett County NAMI. Rev. Bart McNiel recently attended a presentation of NAMI in Tucker to area ministers and remarked on the experience: “Learning more about NAMI’s work was welcome and refreshing. My family has been touched by people living with a mental illness, and I know how difficult it can be to wade through all the misinformation and confusion that surrounds people living with serious mental health conditions. As a ministerial representative of our SRBC Touchpoint Ministries, I was excited to join NAMI as a member as we work to connect people in our church and community to NAMI’s caring network and valuable resources.”

If you or someone you know is a family caregiver for a person with a serious mental health condition, September will also include an opportunity to learn more through a FREE 12-week course offered by NAMI Dekalb. Several Smoke Rise members took this course or a similar one in the past and testify to its effectiveness and value. The course is taught by trained family members and focuses on schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, panic disorder, borderline personality disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Education program starts Tuesday, September 19, 2017, ends December 2017. Time: 6:00pm-8:30 pm. Location: North Decatur Rd, Decatur GA. To sign up for the class and location information: contact Sabrina Green at, 404-961-8123.

Look and listen for more information this month as we work to step out of the shadows and into the light of compassionate care and support for people living with serious mental health conditions.

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