Advocating For Mental Health Awareness

In Christian culture, mental illness has historically been seen as a sign of weak faith, lack of spiritual willpower or a source of shame. But the fact is that mental health conditions are no different than physical conditions. We would never suggest that someone with cancer, diabetes or a heart condition should just pray about it without seeking treatment in tandem. But for many who struggle with depression or anxiety, or worse, that's what is often implied, or even said. What's more, they often face dehumanizing stigma and prejudice.

In 2013, The Lutheran Foundation conducted a ground-breaking Mental and Behavioral Health Needs Assessment of the 10-county area we serve. It was the first study of its kind to analyze all aspects of mental and behavioral health for adult, adolescent and elderly populations in northeast Indiana. The results were overwhelming: a huge number of people here are struggling. From there, the study formed the basis of The Lutheran Foundation's long-term goals and grant-making initiatives, as well as the creation of, a website dedicated to helping people on their journey to mental wellness.

Why focus on mental wellness?

The study showed us that mental health and wellness was a significantly under-funded area in our community. Yet, no one in our community is immune to mental health issues. People of all ages and in all walks of life are hurting from the invisible disease of mental illness. But they often don't know where to turn for help, lack the resources to pay for treatment, or are lost in a confusing, disjointed system. We saw many areas where we could step into the gap, and help people find the healing and hope they need.

Prevalence of Mental Illness

  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 will experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.
  • Just over half of children with a mental health condition aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.
  • Minorities are significantly less likely than Caucasians to use mental health services. (African Americans and Hispanic Americans each use mental health services at about half the rate of Caucasians, and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.) 

Consequences Of Lack Of Treatment

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 10–34.
  • More than 90% of people who die by suicide show symptoms of a mental health condition.
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.

Citations: This document cites statistics provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness