Breaking the taboo

For many people affected, their own congregation is not the place to speak openly about mental illness – their own or that of a family member. For this reason, Difam, together with some partners, sensitizes interested church communities for the topic of mental health and disease. The objective is to expand and improve the health-promoting services in the congregations.

Church and mental health

Psychiatric diseases as an issue in church communities

Mental illnesses are among the most common and the most underestimated diseases. In Germany, almost every fourth man or third woman between 18 and 79 years is affected. Over 40 per cent of all illness-related early retreats are due to mental illness. 

Many factors can lead to mental illnesses and influence their course. The human being is affected as a whole, with body, soul and spirit, with all his relations. Social and spiritual influences can contribute to alleviate the disease. Church communities play an important role here.

For many people, for example, the lack of supportive relationships as a result of individualization and striving for autonomy, as well as a personal uprootedness caused by high mobility, are huge psychological burdens. All the more important is the social network within their own congregation. As a point of encounter with God, the church can be important and salutary for mentally ill people. And even before the occurrence of a mental illness, a supportive and familiar church congregation can actively promote mental health. Here, the basic concepts often are already available and only need to be expanded.

Those affected by a mental disease often suffer particularly from being unable to pray, they are feeling far from God and, in most cases for no reason, burdened with guilt. Sometimes, however, a psalm verse or maybe just one single sentence of a sermon touches the patient’s heart, accompanies and comforts him for a long time. The Holy Communion and the Eucharist can be experienced as sources of strength, and not infrequently, people with mental illnesses are open to the rituals of blessing and anointing which offer personal encouragement and touch them in a soothing way.

Promotion of mental health in church communities

Project for the promotion of mental health in church communities

Church communities as a social network

The project for the promotion of mental health in church communities focuses on the sensitization of the parishioners for mental health and mental illness. In order to support the people with psychiatric...



Dr. Beate Jakob
Dr. Beate Jakob Theological Studies Mohlstraße 26 72074 Tübingen Tel. 07071 7049023 Fax: 07071 7049039