Resources for Churches on Mental Illness

I’m thankful that Barb Dittrich graciously invited me as her guest for last week’s Special Needs Ministry TweetChat on the topic “Families Touched by Mental Illness…The Impact at Church.” We had a great discussion. If you missed it, the transcript from the TweetChat can be obtained through this link to the SNAPPIN’ Ministries Facebook page.

The discussion last Thursday night reflected the great interest in helping churches minister more effectively with kids and families impacted by mental illness. Key Ministry was launched nearly ten years ago out of the recognition that kids with serious emotional, behavioral, developmental or neurologic conditions and their families were far less likely to be actively involved in the ministries of a local church when compared to their friends and neighbors.

Barb invited me to share some resources that might be of help to church staff, pastors and volunteers who desire to minister more effectively to families impacted by mental illness. Here are five organizations worth checking out…

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)…I’ve been a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) for over twenty years. The Academy is the world’s premiere scientific and advocacy organization in the field of child and adolescent mental health. Having served as Chair of the Academy’s Private Practice Committee, President of  the Northeast Ohio Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and  a member of the Program Committee, I can attest to the credibility and scientific integrity of the Academy’s conferences, publications and resources.

AACAP has developed a series of resource centers that can be an invaluable tool to ministry leaders and volunteers serving families of children with mental health issues. Each AACAP Resource Center contains consumer-friendly definitions, answers to frequently asked questions, clinical resources, expert videos, and abstracts from the JAACAP,Scientific Proceedings and Facts for Families relevant to each disorder. The AACAP resource centers provide a one-stop shop for staff, volunteers and parents in search of a better understanding of common mental health conditions that pose obstacles to church participation and spiritual development. The resources are current, highly credible and available free of charge.

Mental Health Grace Alliance…Mental Health Grace Alliance is a faith-based, non-profit organization created to promote understanding in the church and provide assistance and support to individuals living with mental illness and their families. The organization assists individuals and families affected by mental illness through Christ-centered counseling and support and uses a comprehensive (holistic) approach to equip individuals and families with biblical and clinical understanding and practical tools to navigate the health care system and daily life. They facilitate Christ-centered support groups, called Grace Groups, for both those living with a mental illness and their loved ones (presently in CA, FL, MA, TN, TX). They also provide training seminars and resources for churches and faith-based organizations to help leaders and professionals understand the balance between the clinical and spiritual aspects of mental illness and recovery.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research. NAMI offers a Child and Adolescent Action Center, along with FaithNet. FaithNet is dedicated to providing and promoting the creation and exchange of information, tools and other resources which will help NAMI members and friends educate faith communities about mental illness

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): NIMH is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to research to facilitate better understanding and treatment of mental illness. Their website is a treasure trove of information and statistics on specific mental illnesses. For those interested in going “straight to the source” for information, NIMH’s parent organization, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) offers online access to the National Library of Medicine, with more than 21 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

Finally, I’ll mention my own organization, Key Ministry. Our mission is to help churches more effectively minister to families touched by disabilities, but our traditional focus has been on “hidden disabilities,” significant emotional, behavioral, developmental or neurologic disorders lacking outwardly apparent physical symptoms. Most of our resources are housed on the blog I write for the ministry, Church4EveryChild. We’ve developed series on the impact of ADHD, anxiety and bipolar disorder on spiritual development in kids, along with a series on including kids at church at risk of aggressive behavior, will be developing a video training library including presentations on mental health-related topics through our Inclusion Fusion website as well as through Kidmin Coaching and downloadable presentations available through Slideshare. All of our training, consultation, resources and support are made available to churches everywhere free of charge. Please feel free to contact us through our website or our Facebook page if we may be of help.

  Stephen Grcevich, MD serves as President of Key Ministry, an organization providing free training, consultation and resources to churches seeking to minister to families of children with disabilities. 

Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and trained at the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University. He currently teaches in the divisions of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a private practice group in suburban Cleveland, and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression.

Dr. Grcevich was named “Psychiatrist of the Year” in 1998 by the Ohio Chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and received the NAMI Exemplary Psychiatrist Award at the 1999 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. He has been married for 23 years to his wife, Denise, and has two daughters, Leah (16) and Mira (12). 

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  1. Resources for Churches on Mental Illness | Church4EveryChild

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