NAMI FaithNet is a network composed of members and friends of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). It was established for the purposes of (1) facilitating the development within the Faith Community of a non-threatening, supportive environment for those with serious mental illness and their families, (2) pointing out the value of one’s spirituality in the recovery process from mental illness and the need for spiritual strength for those who are caretakers, (3) educating clergy and congregations concerning the biologic basis and characteristics of mental illness, and (4) encouraging advocacy of the Faith Community to bring about hope and help for all who are affected by mental illness.
NAMI FaithNet is not a religious network but rather an outreach to all religious organizations. It has had significant success in doing so, because all the major religions have the basic tenets of giving care and showing compassion to those in need.
NAMI FaithNet respects all religious beliefs. It also recognizes the expression by the majority of those affected by mental illness of the importance of the role of their spirituality in their ability to cope with having one of these no fault disorders themselves or in caring for an ill friend or family member.
NAMI FaithNet encourages all those who are affected by a mental illness, who are also members of a faith community, to talk to their clergy person about mental illness and the role their faith is playing in their lives. This is done for two purposes. (1) By telling their clergy person their story, he or she becomes personally involved and personal involvement is the best method of education. Understanding requires not only the attention of the ears and eyes, but also the heart. (2) By speaking to their clergy person, they have the opportunity to gain spiritual support. Sadly, at present, many shy away from speaking with their clergy person because of the effect the stigma of mental illness has had on their lives. They needlessly feel ashamed and fear rejection. NAMI FaithNet Web Page
What the Faithful Can Do
To Get You Started:
- Learn the facts about mental illness and share them
- Take one person to your place of worship with you every week
- Volunteer to drive one or two persons to appointments monthly
- Hire a special needs neighbor for a household chore
- Lend your expertise to an activity or help run an event:
— if you’re a musician, teach an instrument or lead an ensemble
—-if you’re a housewife, train one person to cook a meal or iron a shirt
—-coach a team in your favorite sport
- Choose a special needs neighbor as a workout partner
- Invite a member of your congregation who is coping with a psychological disorder to share a family dinner—-let them help prepare the meal and clean up
- Mentor one person learning a new skill
- Volunteer to raise funds
- Become a NAMI member and lend your support
As a Committee
- Form a study group to learn about mental illness
- Organize car pools to provide transportation for church and appointments
- Plan a series of outings for congregation members and friends who are managing a mental disorder—a hayride in fall, Christmas caroling, bird watching in spring
- Create a phone directory of neighbors coping with mental illness and call regularly to chat or offer support.
- Set up religious instruction or a Bible study group specifically for those with special needs.
- Organize care packages of non-food necessities quarterly
- Collect, monitor and disburse a petty cash fund to meet emergencies
- Set up a community job bank
- Organize athletic teams, games nights, art projects, poetry readings
As a Congregation
- Schedule a NAMI presentation to your entire congregation.
- Adopt a group home or other residential program in your area
–Assess their specific needs and interact regularly
–Fund a specific program, or ongoing expense (Ex: haircuts) for one year
–Sponsor a capital improvement as a long term goal
- Donate a car or van to a particular facility or program
- Fund a scholarship or a work subsidy for on the job training
- Tithe an additional half per cent a year to benefit a specific organization
- Involve people with special needs in as many congregational activities as possible.
- Include an open prayer for those coping with mental illness in every congregational service
For more information on FaithNet click here