10 ways you can pray for mental illness 

Today is the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding. People often ask me how they can pray for people who live with mental health challenges.  I like prayer.  I pray.  I’m a minister who often prays for other people.  I believe that God can change our hearts and our lives through our attention and focus on God and others.  My colleague Susan Gregg-Schroeder has some excellent resources for prayers and liturgies at Mental Health Ministries.  Check them out here.  But I keep thinking about how Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel talked about marching with Martin Luther King, Jr.  He said, “When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying.” So I was thinking about ways people can pray with their feet for mental illness.  Here are ten ways.

Praying with Feet

Praying with Feet

  1. Donate money to a mental health advocacy organization like National Alliance on Mental Illness, Depression Bipolar Support Alliance or Mental Health America.
  2. Bring a meal (or order food delivery) for someone who you know or suspect is depressed.
  3. Drop by and take a walk with someone who you know or suspect is depressed.
  4. Check in on someone you know who has lost a loved one in the last six to nine months – grief lasts far past the funeral or memorial service.
  5. Sponsor someone for NAMI Walks – or walk yourself!
  6. (For clergy) Preach about mental health challenges.  Some ideas for getting started are here.
  7. (For clergy) Establish a relationship with a therapist in your area to whom you can refer people who need help. Here is a place to get started.
  8. Call someone who you know or suspect is depressed, and ask how s/he is doing and really wait and listen for the answer without trying to fix it
  9. Learn about the experiences of people who live with mental health challenges.  Some of my favorite books are Beyond Blue, An Unquiet Mind, Manic, Madness, Willow Weep for Me.

10. Follow the blog of someone who writes about living with mental health challenges.  There is a great list here.

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