Mental Health Advocate Program

In the United States, 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth experience mental illness in any given year.*

This means that in a congregation of 100 people, 20 individuals are living with a mental health condition—and most struggle in silence. These struggles have intensified in the last year, as up to 40% of U.S. adults report experiencing a mental- or behavioral health-related issue directly connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.**

NAMI Graphic Map

*Statistics from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Factsheet: https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/NAMI-You-Are-Not-Alone-FINAL.pdf

**Statistics from the CDC Report “Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic”: https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6932a1.htm

Our community is facing a hidden crisis.
And your church stands at the crossroads.

Mental health issues are surprisingly common. And just like many health conditions, they are physiological in nature and treatable. Despite this, the stigma surrounding them leads many people to struggle in silence. On the path to restoring our community’s mental health and wellness, churches and congregations can play a pivotal role. And it starts when you open your doors, open your hearts and listen.

Healing happens in community.
Hope happens with connection.

Community is a key element in church fellowship. And for those who have been affected by mental health issues—either firsthand or as a family—community has the power to heal. For many of these individuals and families, the Church is the first place they turn for support.

This puts you at the forefront of a nationwide mental health crisis—and makes you and your congregation uniquely positioned to provide comfort, hope, resources and professional referrals. With that in mind, The Lutheran Foundation has developed the Mental Health Advocate program.


Give the silence a voice.

Appoint a Mental Health Advocate to give a voice to those who struggle in silence.

In the face of our community’s hidden mental health epidemic, your church’s Mental Health Advocate will act as a compassionate champion and a valuable resource. Your congregation's Mental Health Advocate will work closely with The Lutheran Foundation to create mental health initiatives uniquely suited to your congregation. They will also communicate regularly with church leadership, church staff, and congregation members about educational opportunities, resources and grants related to mental wellness.

The Mental Health Advocate is an unpaid, volunteer role that could be filled by a staff member or lay person. The Advocate could be someone who has personal experience with mental illness, holds a related professional title, or simply has a heart for people and a passion for mental wellness.

The Advocate’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Encourage mental wellness initiatives within the congregation.
  • Participate in a monthly Mental Health Advocate virtual cohort meeting, facilitated by The Lutheran Foundation, which will provide education and guidance in developing mental health initiatives.
  • Participate in a Mental Health Advocate Facebook Group, which will serve as a private platform for ongoing communication and collaboration among Advocates.
  • Communicate mental health-related educational opportunities, resources and grant opportunities to the pastor, church staff and congregation members.
  • Communicate the congregation’s expressed mental health needs to The Lutheran Foundation, which will equip and support them in meeting those needs.
  • Serve as a Mental Health Advocate for a minimum of one year.

Their voice can help to silence the stigma.

To register your congregation’s Mental Health Advocate, fill out the form below. Please submit personal information after first obtaining permission.

Registration deadline is March 31, 2021.

I would like more information about the Mental Health Advocate program.

I have someone in mind for the Advocate role and I have spoken to them about this opportunity.

For questions related to the program, contact Deaconess Carole Terkula, Ministry Associate and Mental Health Advocate Facilitator, at Carole@thelutheranfoundation.org