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Mental Illness (& Health): What We Need to Know & Do to Cope – A Faith-based, African-American Perspective

  1. Created June 2013; Revised September 2020 Mental Illness (& Health): What We Need ToKnow & Do To Cope – A Faith-based African-American Perspective Presented by NAMI Main Line PA, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Presenter: Craig A. DeLarge Board Member, NAMI Main Line PA Please view the final slide for NAMI Main Line PA contact information, as well as contact information for the presenter.
  2. 2 Information Included • Mental Illness (MI): – What is it? – What causes it? – How is it treated? • What We Can Do for Ourselves, Our Families & Communities re: MI
  3. 3 My Goal Today • Educate your Mind against Fear & Stigma • Inspire your Heart to Compassion • Animate your Will to Action
  4. 4 Disclaimer • I am NOT a doctor or therapist • I am NOT professionally trained • I am experientially trained • I am on a journey & I am here to share what I have acquired
  5. 5 Our Fear & Stigma Will Not Save Us Job 3:25 - For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.
  6. 6 Life’s Trouble Equips for Comfort II Corinthians 1:4 - Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
  7. What is Mental Illness? • abnormal patterns of thinking, emotion or behavior • associated with distress & a lack of functioning, that can vary greatly • can manifest: – as acute or chronic – with stable or fluid symptoms 7
  8. What is Mental Illness? • onset is common in adolescence and early adulthood • lack of awareness of illness & refusal of care common 8
  9. What are the Mental Illnesses? • Depression • Panic & Anxiety • Bipolar Disorder • Obsessive - Compulsive Disorder • Schizophrenia 9
  10. 10 Mental Illness Depicted In Bible Nahum 2:10 - She is emptied! Yes, she is desolate and waste! Hearts are melting and knees knocking! Also anguish is in the whole body. And all their faces are grown pale! Jonah 2:5-7 - The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever.
  11. What Causes Mental Illnesses? • Genetic Heritage • Traumatic Stress • Brain chemistry & structure • Usually combinations of all the above 11
  12. What are Effects of Mental Illness? • Individual – inability to function, even if willing – incarceration – alienation/transience • Familial – systemic sickness; – caregivers role – coping with stigma – grieving – dealing with torturous mental health system 12
  13. 13 Effects & Opps Among A-As • Poverty, foster status (45%), homelessness (40%) & incarceration (50%), violent exposure increase odds of MI • A-As: – less likely to get accurate diagnosis thus need for more competence in dealing with SYSTEM – underrepresented as treaters thus need for more A- As to train as Psychs & SWs – have cultural bias against MH system resulting in lower access to care thus greater need for education
  14. 14 Effect & Opps Among A-As • A-As: – prone to seeking support in community vs system thus community needs mental health competence – metabolize meds more slowly while getting higher doses resulting in worst side effects & lower compliance thus need to better understand treatment regimens – For more information on this subject visit: – – African-American
  15. Typical, but Unproductive, Responses to Mental Illness • Denial/Stigma • Shame/Guilt • Anger/Bitterness • Isolation/Despair • Succumbing to MI under “caregiver stress” 15
  16. How is Mental Illness Treated? • Psychotherapy • Medication • Diet/Exercise/Rest • Time/Care 16
  17. 17 Recovery & Functionality are Possible!!!
  18. 18 My Story: MI Effect on Me • Anger & deep sense of grief & sadness as father over lost opportunities • Guilt over my role as cause of son’s MI as well as enforcer of care & accountability • In denial & confused regarding balance between care & accountability
  19. 19 My Story: My Coping & Recovery • Education, on own, & in community, and especially via NAMI Family-to-Family Program! • Seeking community with like afflicted – National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) • Care & comforting of self, wife, children, siblings & extended family & community • Patient, persistent practice & engagement to build resilience
  20. 20 God Knows How To Restore Joel 2:25 - And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten
  21. 21 What We Can Do!
  22. 22 What Can We Do for Ourselves? • Avoid denial when getting feedback about your own abnormal patterns • Engage in continuous counseling: self, community & one-on-one • Commit to preventative self-care of mind, emotions, body, diet, sleep & relationships • When ill, submit to treatment (if you can)
  23. 23 What Can We Do for Our Families? • Patiently persist towards recovery • Get educated (though perplexing) • Balance accountability with care • Cultivate a “community of like-afflicted”
  24. 24 What Can We Do for Our Communities? • Be models of mental health & resilience • Stand against stigma & shame • Be compassionate - “Good Samaritans” • Learn available resource & the SYSTEM
  25. 25 Very Key Point! • Mental Illness is no one’s fault and not a character flaw • Mental Illness is a journey we must travel together with care & accountability • Energy better invested in work towards recovery than in blame & anger
  26. Resources I Suggest • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – NAMI Main Line PA Support Groups – Family-to-Family Education Program – NAMI Resource & Forensics Guide – NAMI Main Line PA Introduction to Services • Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (April 2020) • The Safe Place: Mobile app for African American Mental Wellnes 26
  27. 27 Photo Credits • shadow boy: [link defunct] • man holding head: • tearing lady (black & white): [link defunct] • girl with head on: [link defunct] • boy with head in hands: _150.jpg • woman in yellow tank: content/uploads/2011/02/depression.jpg • brain & stethescope: [link defunct] • woman in black kerchief: content/uploads/2009/12/105641_behind-the-scenes-precious-150x150.jpg • boy in chair: on_Africa n_American.jpg
  28. 28 • child in cell: boy in chair: [link defunct] • hands reaching for man: [link defunct] • bottle of pills: [link defunct] Photo Credits
  29. Presented by NAMI Main Line PA an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Contact presenter Craig A. DeLarge at for more information on any of the topics in this presentation. All information is current as of publication date; please let us know if you encounter broken hyperlinks.