Southern Ohiio Synod. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Mental Wellness & Recovery Task Force

Our Mission...

To educate and serve our congregations and communities concerning the needs of those working towards mental health, wholeness and recovery.

The Mental Wellness and Recovery Task Force (MWR Task Force) is a newly developed ministry in the Southern Ohio Synod, a ministry whose focus is to raise awareness of the importance of mental wellness and recovery in our congregations and local communities.

On November 9-11, 2012, the ELCA Church Council adoped a social message on mental Illness. Declaring that the mental and emoitional pain of those suffering from the disease could be one of the most far-reaching issues the ELCA will encounter. With the recent increase in school shootings, mental wellness is now coming to the forefront as a systemic healthcare issue. And we as a society need to ardently support this issue through compassion and funding.

Mental illness may include:

Anxiety Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity, Autism, Depression, Eating Disorders, Personality Disorders, Schizophrenia, Substance Abuse Disorders and suicide. Although suicide is not a disease, 90% of suicides are committed by those who suffer from aspects of mental illness.

Did You Know?

  • 60 million Americans suffer from mental illness.
  • Nearly 4 million persons with mental illness have no healthcare.
  • Fewer than 1/3 of adults and 1/2 of children with mental health needs receive any level of treatment in any one year.
  • Only 1 in 3 adults who lives with a serious mental illness is employed, even though most want to work.
  • The mentally ill have a 52-year lifespan.
  • We lose one life to suicide every 15.8 seconds. The suicide rate is 50% higher for older adults than the national average.
  • 1 in 4 persons sitting in our pews has a family member struggling with mental health issues.
  • 60% of individuals with a mental health issue go first to a pastor for help.

I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made — Psalm 139:14

Unfortunately, stereotyping, discrimination and pervading stigma still exist in our society and within our congregations. Using Leprosy as a metaphor, the mentally ill are considered modern-day lepers. Many of these people feel embarrassed, unclean and suffer from evaluative judgements. Conspiracy of Silence occurs when those who have mental health issues, due to feelings of shame and humiliation, suffer from the denial of their symptoms.

What can we do as the body of Christ to make those with mental illness feel welcome and safe in our midst? You were a stranger and you welcomed me, Matthew 25:35. Carry each others burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ, Galatians 6:2. Places of worship should work towards making people living with mental illness and their families feel not only comfortable, but also spiritually nourished.

What our ministry provides:

  • Synod webpage with resources, links and who to contact for help
  • Synod newsletters with articles and events on topics in mental health
  • Assistance with the development and introduction of a recovery support group for congregations
  • Provide keynote speakers in the profession of mental health and recovery
  • Provide how congregations can organize community events
  • In the future, a hotline where people can call for help to community resources

Members of the Mental Wellness and Recovery Task Force: Helen Jane Brown, Susan Clem, Greg Darling, Sue Hanna, Pr. Bob Skipper, Pr. Kris Santiago, Pr. Bill Schwochow, Lynn Spatz, Joyce Williams, Pr. Ed Williams-DEM, and Pr. Dona Johnson, Chair

If you would like to join us in this vitally important minstry, please contact Pr. Dona Johnson at or the synod office.


None at this time.