Jesus christ was concerned about persons with a variety of special needs, including the mentally ill (Matt. 4:23, 24). So was Paul. Commenting on 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (RSV), The Interpreter’s Bible suggests that which is basic to the Church’s ministry to the mentally ill: “To help was to attach oneself to, and to sustain, by giving one’s strength to support another.… Encouragement must be given to those who have lost their courage.” The lack of courage in the form of self-confidence is a common symptom of the mentally ill and the emotionally disturbed. A prominent European psychiatrist, Dr. André Liengme, claims that lack of self-confidence afflicts the mentally ill more than anything else.
According to Dr. Gerald I. Gingrich, Associate Secretary of the Division of Institutional Ministries of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, “more than thirty million Americans spend time in some institution each year.… No single group of people receives such inadequate ministry from the Church. True, some service is rendered by parish clergymen. The great responsibility, however, is with the institutional chaplains. But there are only 1200 full-time chaplaincy appointees to serve 24 million Protestants. This means one chaplain for every twenty thousand! Quite a parish for any minister! The standards of the American Psychiatric Association and the Association of Mental Hospital Chaplains call for a chaplain for every five hundred patients. The need for more qualified men and women is thus apparent and urgent, if these standards are to be met. However, specialized training—clinical training, beyond that required for the parish ministry—is necessary’ ” (“The Challenge of the Institutional Chaplaincy,” Concern, Jan.-Feb., 1962, pp. ...1
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