Significant emotional or psychiatric illness includes many conditions of the brain that can impact a person’s thinking, feeling, moods, behaviors, and ability to interact with other people. For individuals with psychiatric impairment or significant mental illness, the ability to cope with everyday life can be a significant challenge. It is not uncommon for the family and caregivers to be under great stress as they care for a loved one with a psychiatric illness. Further, stigmas about this type of special need can lead to feelings of alienation, embarrassment, and isolation.
The degree of impact of a mental illness can vary from day to day, thus the person’s needs for support for assistance can change over time, even daily. Because of the stigma associated with mental and psychiatric illness, many sufferers will not openly admit their needs, which inhibits access to medical and psychological therapies and resources that are available.
1. Accessibility. The point of this goal is to provide an environment in which everyone feels welcome and has access to all areas of church life, regardless of her or his mental or emotional condition. Although in many cases the individual with this type of disability will have full physical access to church and church activities, there may be cases in which individuals impacted more severely by their illness may not be able to drive and may need transportation assistance to attend church services.
2. Education. Considerable misinformation about psychiatric and mental disorders may be present among church members. It is critical that educational outreach address issues of fear and stigma surrounding worshipers with these illnesses.
3. Encouragement. The focus of this goal is to promote participation in appropriate areas of church life. Providing a safe, loving environment within all levels of the church for all people is the privilege of every Christian.
4. Accommodation. The goal is to help God’s family be inclusive in principle and practice. Special Needs Ministries promotes the inclusion of qualified persons with special needs in church committees, forums, volunteer service opportunities and other ministries. Because some individuals with a significant emotional or psychiatric challenge may be unable to drive themselves to church activities, transportation assistance is one way to provide much-needed support.
5. Support. Often family members of those who struggle with mental health need support. The kind of support needed varies but local resources need to be identified and offered.
Conclusion. Social stigmas associated with mental or psychiatric illness are powerful and can prevent individuals from fully participating in a church community. The church should be one place where a person with a mental or psychiatric illness knows they will be welcome and intentionally included in appropriate activities. We must reach out to this population and share with them the gospel message and the love and peace only Jesus can offer. The families of these members should also find or know where to find the coping support they need.
In general, a person with an intellectual impairment is regarded as having a permanent condition that significantly impacts his or her ability to learn and process information. They may also experience difficulty with the development of adaptive skills. Key spiritual concepts must be presented in a manner simple enough to be understood and accepted, yet deep enough to impart a personal, meaningful understanding of the gospel. In addition to the impact on learning and adaptive skill development, adults and children with intellectual impairments may have co-existing conditions that impact communication, social-emotional functioning, and physical development. It is most often impossible to determine the extent to which the individual has challenges in these areas, and care must be taken not to assume that the individual is affected by these issues.
1. Accessibility. Special Needs Ministries assists church leaders in learning how to make all structures, buildings, and programs available to all. The point of this goal is to provide an environment in which everyone feels welcome and has access to all areas of church life, regardless of her or his physical or mental condition.
2. Education. The goal is to train people without special needs and those with special needs to work collaboratively in building God’s kingdom.
3. Encouragement. The focus of this goal is to promote participation in all aspects of church life. Providing a safe, loving environment within all levels of the church for all people is the privilege of every Christian. It is important to remember the needs of the caregiver(s) of people with intellectual impairment as well. In this area church members can have a profound and positive effect
4. Accommodation. The goal is to help God’s family be inclusive in principle and practice. Special Needs Ministries promotes the inclusion of qualified persons with special needs in church committees, forums, volunteer service opportunities, and other ministries.
Conclusion. As the church makes and puts into action a plan to include every person in meaningful participation, the needs of every worshiper will be considered and accommodated.