Comfort My People: A Policy Statement on Serious Mental Illness

The biblical theme of “exile” guides this policy statement. After offering a working definition and an account of the historical context, the report focuses on two major themes. The first theme is “The Land of Exile,” which explores the difficulties and injustices endured by people with serious mental illness. The experience of mental illness disorders people’s lives in ways that exile them from themselves, their  families, and their community. The second theme, “God’s Call to Comfort,” focuses on appropriate ways congregations can minister with and to people with a serious mental illness. Throughout this report, people are understood from a Christian incarnational perspective, called to be delivered from chaos and disorder into the wholeness and communion of salvation. At the same time, the report recognizes the validity of the “medical model,” with its gifts of biochemical medication and social-scientific analysis. The goal of restoration from exile includes the integration of both perspectives and the renewal of a healthier culture and society. Especially because this document will be read to give hope to those suffering from mental illness and their families, stories are included from various perspectives that illumine and give depth to this policy statement. The stories have been altered to conceal the identities of the people in them.

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