Mental health and faith communities

450 million people around the world are affected by mental health problems. Mental and behavioural disorders are common, affecting more than 25% of all people at some time during their lives. They affect people, regardless of gender, economic status, religion, race or environment. Depression, suicides, schizophrenia, epileptic disorders… the list is long and daunting. One in four families is likely to have at least one member with a behavioural or mental disorder. Families not only provide physical and emotional support, but also bear the negative impact of stigma and discrimination. 

The resources available in the form of trained mental health professionals and psychiatric services are woefully inadequate to meet the growing need. Community support and resources are needed, and churches and congregations could get involved and make a remarkable difference.  

The WCC will partner with the World Health Organization (WHO) to help equip faith communities to broaden their engagement with mental health and help mobilize communities' resources to deal with this growing challenge. 

Under the guidance of a multidisciplinary advisory group, country studies and two regional consultations on mental health will promote contacts and mutual commitment between mental health-related professionals and theologians, clergy and laity in Asia/West Asia and the Americas (South, Central and North). Based on these consultations, a plan for programmatic work will be developed.  

The country studies will focus on prevention, early identification/care, and referral. The experience will also assist in the collection of experiences and lessons learned by faith communities in dealing with mental health. The knowledge gleaned will also contribute to educational material aimed at increasing faith communities' competencies and skills in dealing with mental health.

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Mental health as a key issue in the future of global health development

Paper by Prathap Tharyan, Deepa Braganza and Prasanna Jebaraj presented at a consultation at Breklum, Germany (26 June to 2 July 2002)

WCC strategic plan for Mental health

(January 2008-December 2009)

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