Where can I go? With whom can I talk?

by Rev. Alan Johnson

One of the glaring gaps in our resources for people who are living with a mental health challenge, is that they don’t know where to go or with whom they can talk about their mental health or that of a loved one.  Other than with a medical professional, that is.

You see, the stigma around mental illness has silenced people.  It is a blanket that covers over the pain that is lived, and the stigma is a closet that causes many people to withdraw into silence. And the silence is isolating,

While it is important for a person who are living with a serious mental illness to have resources such as a psychiatrist who prescribes medication, a counselor who offers talk therapy, a family and/or a strong friend or two who are supportive, a faith community, and meaningful work or voluntary opportunities — there may still be something missing.

What is often missing is a confidential support group of persons who are affected by a mental health challenge. I have found many people open up to me regarding their mental health when they know that I am receptive and non-judgmental, that I have been affected myself, and that I continue to learn more and more about mental health along the way including new resources. However, where there is a safe enough place where people can share their agonizing and sometimes blessed journey in the world of mental health, there is a healing that begins.  When the silence is broken, the hurts can be attended to.

Over the past 5 years I have had the privilege of being one of the organizers and facilitators of such a group. It is the Spiritual Support Group for Mental Health and Wellness. We have created a strong structure for the meeting along with guidelines. What happens is that people come regularly or when they feel the need, and in the confidential space there is a sacredness that becomes real.  In the hearing and the sharing of stories, strength is given though the tears and the laughter.

Where do you go?  With whom do you talk and listen?

Alan Johnson

Interfaith Network on Mental Illness

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the submitter. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board of directors or members of the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness.