Since 1974, the United States has observed National Suicide Prevention Month in the month of September. Not only does this bring much needed awareness for Christians who are suffering from mental health issues, but it also provides an opportunity for the church and/or faith-based organizations to talk about an important topic that affects people more than we often realize or like to admit.
“Depression was once a topic reserved for ‘other people,’” Former LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer wrote in a Facts & Trends issue on mental health. He goes on to say, “The truth is, pastors are as likely as other Americans to experience mental illness.”
Here are 13 statistics from several LifeWay Research studies that may help you better understand the issue of mental health and the people in your church:
Christian Mental Health Statistics:
23 percent of pastors acknowledge they have personally struggled with a mental illness.
49 percent of pastors say they rarely or never speak to their congregation about mental illness.
27 percent of churches have a plan to assist families affected by mental illness.
65 percent of churchgoing family members of those with mental illness want their church to talk openly about mental illness.
59 percent of those actually suffering from mental illness say the same.
53 percent of churchgoers with mental illness say the church has been supportive.
76 percent of churchgoers say suicide is a problem that needs to be addressed in their community.
32 percent of churchgoers say a close acquaintance or family member has died by suicide.
80 percent of pastors say their church is equipped to assist someone who is threatening to take his or her own life.
92 percent of pastors say their church is equipped to care for the family that experiences the suicide of a loved one.
4 percent of churchgoers who lost a loved one to suicide say church leaders were aware of their loved one’s struggles.
68 percent of Americans feel they would be welcome in church if they were mentally ill.
35 percent of Americans say mental illness could be overcome with Bible study and prayer alone.
Christians still have a long way to go in regards to the conversation surrounding mental health, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do SOMETHING about it today. By using our voice, platforms and influence, we can be the change needed to elevate the much needed conversation surrounding mental health within the local church, faith-based organizations, and beyond.
Over 800,000 people a year lose their lives to suicide, and we believe it’s about time Christians start doing something about it.
—Jarrid Wilson, Founder