by Jacquelyn Scott
Forming a network of support and accountability
As we transition into the next decade, there is no time to waver between the world and the Kingdom. Those of us who have taken on the mantle of “Christian Leader” must be good stewards of the commission that has been bestowed upon us. The responsibility for being ambassadors of God’s Word is not to be taken lightly. None of us are perfect, but we must strive for perfection in carrying out the duties that have been given us. Having a sound mind is essential to assure that we do no harm to those who are following our lead. Let us work together to form a network of support and accountability for each other as we gear up for the battle to win souls for Christ.
Because of the associated stigma, many of us do not want to admit to struggling with any kind of mental or emotional breakdown. It is especially difficult for those who are in the position of leadership. To many believers within the Christian community, such a revelation would be a lack of faith or an admission of a sin. Pastors, ministers, youth and worship leaders, elders, deacons – all are human, and all are subject to burnout, depression, addictions, etc.; it is prideful to think otherwise.
We must strive to be in top form in all areas of our lives
Many Christian leaders are so focused on taking care of others that we sometimes neglect to tend to our own physical, mental and emotional needs. In order to set good examples for those that we serve, we must become open to caring for our mental and emotional health as much as, hopefully, we do for our physical and spiritual wellbeing. Our country, indeed, our world, is under a tremendous spiritual attack. To continue with the mission that Jesus assigned to His original disciples, we must strive to be in top form in all areas of our lives. This includes taking whatever measures that are needed to ensure that we maintain our mental wellness.
While working towards a certificate in Family Ministry through LifeSpring School of Ministry, now known as Artios Christian College, I engaged in an online discussion with one of my classmates during the Mental Health semester of the course. As a result of that conversation, I started an initiative to facilitate the coming together of mental-health providers and congregations to end the stigma of mental illness and to promote mental wellness in our communities.
The church can be a crucial component in the effort to assist those who are struggling
I have attended various workshops, seminars and training sessions since then, and at each one, I have heard that the church can be a crucial component in the effort to assist those who are struggling with mental and emotional health issues. I have also heard that many people are not getting the help that they need from their local churches because of the attitude that some places of worship have about addressing mental and emotional illness. The fact that the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day) recognizes the importance of including courses about mental health in the curriculum that leaders are encouraged to take should not be overlooked or taken lightly.
Where other denominations might be lacking, the Church of God (Seventh Day) is in the perfect position to serve as an example by acknowledging that there should not be a disconnect between “mental” and “physical” when it comes to promoting wellness within our congregations. If we are to carry forth the “Vision of a Vibrant 21-st Century Church of God (Seventh Day)” that Bro. Whaid Rose wrote about in Dream in Progress , then we must recognize that we will not be able to fully serve those who are in need of spiritual guidance if we cling to outdated methods of dealing with those who have a mental or emotional disorder. That acknowledgment must start with the leaders.
Churches and mental illness
According to a study of 1000 pastors by “LifeWay Research”: 
- Most protestant preachers seldom speak to their congregations about mental illness.
- Family members and those with mental illness want their churches to talk about mental illness, but most pastors talk about it once a year or less.
- One-fourth of the pastors studied admitted to having some form of mental illness, but are reluctant to share their struggles
These are just a few of the statistics that are available concerning mental illness, relating to pastors and the church. One of the points of the vision of the General Conference is that we are “Distinct, Yet Inclusive.” An attribute adding to our distinctiveness could be our way of ministering to those struggling with mental health issues, including clergy members and others in leadership roles of the church.
 Whaid Rose, Dream in Progress: The Vision of a Vibrant 21st-Century Church of God (Seventh Day). (General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day), 2011)
 Bob Smietana, “Mental Illness Remains Taboo Topic for Many Pastors”, LifeWay Research, September 22, 2014, June 12, 2019, lifewayresearch.com