It’s not often that a person with serious mental health problems gets the chance to make something big happen, like the Living Room faith-based support groups I started in 2006. Many individuals came into my life uplifting me in my faith and courage. When I look back at my 55 years with bipolar disorder, 20 of those with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, I realize how important those people have been to me.

More than any other single person, I would have to thank the pastor who believed in one such as me, giving me a chance to follow my passion.

In 2006, mental health wasn’t talked about or understood in churches. But my pastor became informed at a pastor’s workshop—something uncommon at the time. It was led by Dr. John Toews, a Christian psychiatrist and author of Mental Health and the Church. Now-a-days we have a more readily available access of learning through the Sanctuary Course

My pastor trusted me enough to let me build the ministry when no other like it existed. He must have seen me as a person with a faith that gave her courage, despite her disability. Before long he had me witnessing to the congregation. Eventually I was asked to help organize a mental health church service, featuring some of the members of my group as they spoke and sang.

The question he put to his congregation and to me was this:

“We all need something meaningful to do. Do you have a vision for your life?”

He quoted Proverbs 29:19 NASB Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, In other words, anything goes. You live blindly, without any real sense of purpose or meaning.

He also quoted Jesus in Mark 9:23 saying “Everything is possible for one who believes.” And I believed.

I think to myself today, don’t we all need something meaningful to do—those with mental health challenges included? How can we find meaning when we feel so small? How can we get over our feelings of inferiority?


I believe those who support us could help us find hope, despite our mental health difficulties. We need to be encouraged to believe in ourselves. We need to be recognized as having potential like others do. Too many write off people with mental health issues, not believing they could do anything worthwhile.

But each of us has value. Each of us needs to have a sense of self-worth. It’s wrong to talk down to us, as some do, as though we can’t talk about things that matter. Having conditions like ours does not mean we lack intellect. Include us in a study group or form study groups for us where we can grow spiritually. Like everyone else we want to share our belief in Jesus with others.

Encouraging a person with mental health issues to trust in God is of utmost importance. Christ’s love brings healing. There’s nothing better. His love gives us the security we need when we deal with conditions that brings anxiety. Having a strong faith gives us strength and courage to enable us to live for God in a meaningful way.

Don Dyck, the pastor who encouraged me when I founded Living Room and raised mental health awareness in the church, saw me as worthy as any other. More than that, he fed me and many others with good spiritual food. That food may have been the most important feature to help me carry out what I did when I founded Living Room.

Today I wonder, if this pastor’s example were to be followed by other leaders, couldn’t others like me have a chance too? Might it not be possible for many more people with mental health issues like mine, to lead truly meaningful lives as well?