One Mind Mental Illness Ministry: Changing the World One Mind at a Time
By Bonnie Kinschner
Our family's story with mental illness began 10 years ago when our daughter Janet was diagnosed with a severe and persistent mental illness. Like many other families, we prayed for Janet's cure. We wanted God to take the mental illness away and allow her to get back to her "normal life." Our prayers have been answered but in a way we didn't expect. Today, Janet still has bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, but things are different. There is healing taking place and our family is engaged in a faith outreach that we call One Mind Mental Illness Ministry.
One Mind has been developed by Janet, her husband Doug, my husband and me, using what we have learned and experienced with mental illness and the faith journey. One Mind works to 1) raise recognition of the importance of the faith journey in the healing of persons with mental illness; 2) educate people about mental illness; 3) erase the stigma and 4) create caring communities-places where all those affected by mental illness can be comforted, nurtured, prayed for and encouraged.
We seek to link with churches, other faith communities and mental health organizations to "change the world"-one mind at a time. Janet also desires to create a safe place for people with mental illness to find support and encouragement through her One Mind blog at our website, www.onemindmentalillnessministry.com.
NAMI and other organizations focus on "recovery" for those with mental illness. Recovery is about wholeness-not just getting meds in check and symptoms reduced. It is not a cure and the "old life" back. Recovery is a healed life with mental illness-a new "normal" with new direction and different dreams. To reach recovery and healing, each person with mental illness should be cared for as a "whole person," which means addressing the needs of mind, body and spirit. It is important to include the spiritual journey in recovery wherever and however that takes form.
As members of our local NAMI Western Carolina and NAMI North Carolina affiliates, and as Family-to-Family instructors, we have been blessed by NAMI's wonderful programs, education and support groups. We have also received encouragement and support for One Mind from NAMI and NAMI FaithNet. We had a table at our local NAMIWalks and at the state conference. We shared booth space with NAMI at a local community outreach fair. We have spoken at the monthly meetings of affiliates and our local affiliate has posted our other speaking events on its website.
One Mind's goals are like those of NAMI and NAMI FaithNet. And maybe they are similar to the ones that you have…or those of the mental illness ministry you serve or want to create. When groups come together with mutual love, concern and compassion for those with mental illness, we can make a larger impact. We become a community that can embrace the whole person and with them work together for recovery. We can also provide support for the ones who love and care about those with mental illness.
As Gunnar Christiansen, one of the founders of NAMI FaithNet, said in the Fall 2010 NAMI Voice, "NAMI needs the faith community and the faith community needs NAMI." I would add that when we unite in community, the world will be changed…one mind at a time.