Lessons For Church Leaders in “Medication Nation”

PillsThis past Friday, we looked at statistics from Medco Health Solutions demonstrating that more than one in five U.S. adults (and more than one in four women) take medication on a regular basis for a mental health condition. The percentage of the U.S. population taking psychotropic medication has increased 22% in the last ten years. Today, I’ll share a few thoughts on why church leaders should care about the data.

Kids are more anxious than ten years ago. Implication…Check to see how many children from families who regularly attend are in your adult worship services as an alternative to their age-appropriate programming. Follow up on uninvolved kids from middle and high school with families who regularly attend. 

Churches are more likely to encounter kids with serious problems with aggressive behavior. Implication…Train staff and volunteers to recognize risk factors for and signs of aggressive behavior before problems escalate. Develop plans to protect staff, volunteers and other kids in the event aggressive behavior occurs during church events.

Kids are far less likely than their parents to receive medication for mental health issues. Implication…Most kids with a psychiatric diagnosis attending church programming won’t be getting medication (or any effective non-medical treatment) for their condition. Odds are that their parents aren’t aware that they have a disorder, and the parents probably won’t share information about their child’s condition with church staff or key volunteers if they are aware. Plan to include them in your full range of programming with children and youth.

Churches need to be strategic about creating environments welcoming to families of women with anxiety or depression. Implication…How would your church present itself differently to the community knowing that a large percentage of potential attendees struggle with anxiety? How would your outreach strategies change? How would your assimilation process change? How would the style and content of your communication change?

Young-to middle age adults are seeking help for problems with organization and focus in record numbers, as indicated by a 188% increase in use of ADHD medication among men, and a 264% increase among women. Implication… Consider the ways in which you communicate important information. Does snail mail or even e-mail capture their attention? Do you have realistic expectations regarding the ability of parents with children to make and keep ongoing commitments of time? Are your people clear as to the most important steps they should take to grow spiritually and to promote the spiritual development of their children?  

A recent study from Baylor University reported that the availability of support for mental health needs from their local church was ranked second among 47 possible types of assistance by the 27% of families attending church while coping with mental illness. This particular study looked only at families already attending church…what about families lacking a connection to church?

Updated August 25th, 2013

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ADHD Series LogoKey Ministry offers a resource center on ADHD, including helpful links, video and a blog series on the impact of ADHD upon spiritual development in kids and teens. Check it out today and share the link with others caring for children and youth with ADHD.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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