As part of the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
Editorial by Community Missions
Community Missions will hold an ecumenical community prayer service on Tuesday, Oct. 8, as part of The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding. The service will be held from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m., with light refreshments to follow the service.
The prayer service is open to the public and will be held at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 822 Cleveland Ave., Niagara Falls (details and directions here).
This National Day of Prayer is part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which begins Oct. 6. Established by an Act of Congress in 1990, MIAW is observed in the first week of October and is an opportunity to learn more about serious mental illnesses, such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
The Rev. Mark Breese, agency minister and director of ministry and community partnerships at Community Missions, and the Rev. Marna Pritchard, pastor of First Congregational Church, will lead the prayer service. Other area clergy will also take part.
"The community prayer service for mental illness recovery and understanding will offer an opportunity for community leaders, pastors, churches and the general public to stand in solidarity with those who struggle with mental illness and with their families," Breese said. "What people need to know is that there is treatment, and recovery is possible. There is hope!"
"Hope" is the theme of this year's service.
"Often, the general public only sees mental illness, and those who struggle with it, as something to fear," Breese said. "The news media focuses on tragedies, like shootings that have recently occurred. The public needs to know that such events are preventable, if individuals with mental illness can receive proper treatment, support and understanding. That is a big part of what Community Missions does as an agency."
Mental illnesses are medical illnesses. One in four adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year. One in 17 lives with serious, chronic illness. Many people in this community are directly affected by mental illness. The good news is that treatment does work and recovery is possible.
On average, people living with serious mental illness live 25 years less than the rest of the population. One reason is that less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with a diagnosed illness receive treatment. There is also often a tendency for medical professionals to ignore or disregard other physical medical symptoms individuals with mental illness report. This is one of the sad facts surrounding the stigma associated with mental illness.
When proper mental health care isn't available in a community, the results often are lost jobs and careers, broken families, more homelessness, more welfare and much more expensive costs for hospital emergency rooms, nursing homes, schools, police and even courts, jails and prisons. Since the early 1970s, Community Missions has been addressing this important public health issue by offering a variety of residential and community-based programs for youth and adults with mental illness.
"As an agency committed to helping those with mental illness, our goal has been to not only help individuals and families struggling with mental illness directly, but also to reduce the stigma that exists around mental illness," said Robyn Krueger, executive director of Community Missions. "We are all part of one community, and the well-being of our neighbors should be a concern for all of us."