|“It ain’t weak to speak.” A man broadcast this message on his t-shirt as he spoke about mental wellness.
Members of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Fort Wayne agree – speaking about mental wellness is not weak, rather it takes great strength. As part of an 8-part series on the church and mental wellness, Emmanuel hosted a pastor and a lay person from different parts of the community to share their experiences.
The pastor spoke of abuse and neglect he experienced within his family of origin. This childhood trauma led to unhealthy habits with alcohol and drugs until he attempted suicide while serving in the military. He woke up on the bathroom floor when the cord he used to hang himself broke. Years later he realized the place he felt safest throughout life was the church. He entered ministry to help others feel the same.
“Our experience at the SpeakUp Conference (November 8, 2017), enabled a congregational focus on the church and mental health providing our members with a common language and a safe place to discuss issues of mental health and wellness,” said Rev. Thomas Eggold, senior pastor at Emmanuel. Eggold agrees speaking about mental wellness is emblematic of strength, not weakness.”
Mental illness is not the result of a weak faith or lack of spiritual willpower. Studies show many with a mental health condition will see a pastor before a medical doctor or psychiatrist. We applaud this congregation for starting the conversation around mental health and silencing the stigma. Removing the stigma starts by realizing we are all broken in some way.
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