Mental Illness and the Faith Community

Many of you may know me either from our Community Clergy Event on “Mental Illness in the Faith Community” or from other venues in the faith community.  For those of you that don’t, my name is Mike Sibley and I am a Psychiatric Chaplain at Eastern State Hospital. 

 As many of you may already know, Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky is the second oldest continuously operating psychiatric hospital in the United States.  In 2013, we were fortunate to be the recipients of a brand new facility that now houses our operations.  However, a facility is just brick and mortar without its staff and volunteer base.  The population of persons living with mental illness is expanding at an alarming rate while resources are simultaneously disappearing at an equally alarming rate due to changes in healthcare and state budget cuts.  Whether we choose to recognize it or not, the future of support for those living with mental illness is on shaky ground. 

However, we are not without some untapped resources.  The faith community is poised in many ways to be able to offer a unique type of support to those living with mental illness.  My goal in the upcoming year is to put together educational resources in an effort to raise awareness within the faith community and to provide educational tools and a means of getting involved in the lives of individuals that are so desperately in need of a kind word or a hand of support.  You will find a link to a youtube channel at the bottom of this blog that will offer educational resources for those faith communities interested in learning how to engage this population in a meaningful way. 

Additionally, I am pleased to make myself available as a consultative resource to assist your church with developing programs to assist those living with mental illness.  Please take the time to view this educational video and keep a look out for additional educational resources in the near future. 

As always, if you or your congregation have a desire to become involved as volunteers at Eastern State Hospital, please feel free to contact me and we can plug you into a place of meaningful service.  It could be as simple as singing with patients, offering a listening ear, or participating in a chapel service, we would simply love to have your congregation’s involvement moving forward as we build a bridge from Eastern State Hospital into the community to erase stigma and to empower those living with mental illness.

Please help be a voice for those whose voice is so often ignored and muffled by stigma and pain.

Rev. Michael C. Sibley, M.Div., BCC

Psychiatric Chaplain

Eastern State Hospital-

Managed by University of Kentucky Healthcare

1350 Bull Lea Rd.

Lexington, Ky 40511