Fighting Mental Illness

2014 Peace of Mind Conference

Those suffering from mental illness and their families are in a battle. Their relationships, finances, and sanity are under attack, and it seems there's no hope. In this 8-minute message from the 2014 Peace of Mind Conference, Doug McSwane, attorney and advocate for mental health awareness, urges the mental health community to band together in the fight.

Doug lost his oldest son to schizophrenia in 2012. He is a leading advocate for mental health awareness in Tyler, Texas, and a leader in the annual Peace of Mind Conference.  

As you watch this session, take notes and write down thoughts about how it can impact your work or ministry. 

Doug shared some statistics about mental illness:
• 1/4 of people at the conference currently have some kind of mental illness.
• 26% of people will develop some kind of mental illness in the next year.
• Less than 1% of mental health victims are violent. 

Did these statistics surprise you? What kind of misunderstanding do you think there is around the topic of mental illness?
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Doug described mental illness vividly. It:

  • takes over people’s minds.
  • robs victims of their ability to enjoy family and friends.
  • destroys marriages.
  • creates thick tension in a family that goes on 24/7.
  • can destroy a family.
  • costs enormous amounts of money.
  • leads to confusion, darkness, and misunderstanding.
  • creates isolation for the victim and family because of the stigma associated with it.
  • can lead to death.
He noted that victims and families who suffer from mental illness have done nothing to deserve this kind of suffering. 

If you or someone you know suffers from mental illness, would you like to elaborate on any of the above results of mental illness that Doug shared? Is there anything you’d like to add?
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To what extent have the mentally ill you know sought help?
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When Doug’s popular, athletic, creative, and loving oldest son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, Doug and his family tried everything to help him: doctors, specialists, medications, etc. Have you ever been faced with a mental health problem you tried everything to heal? What was that experience like?
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Doug said that one of the worst parts about mental illness is that it causes people to isolate themselves from others. Even as his son got better, his family went insular. They stopped being social because they were afraid of the stigma associated with their son’s condition. 

Describe a time when you withdrew from people because of something difficult you’d been through—mental illness or otherwise. How did isolation add to your pain?
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Doug’s son committed suicide not long after he stopped taking his medication. Doug said he believes that mental illness, like any disease, can become terminal if not treated. 

Have you ever thought of mental illness as a disease similar to others that kill? In what ways might this description help others better understand mental illness?
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There are better medications and resources for mental health than ever before. Have you ever thought of mental illness as something that’s incurable? What hope does early intervention, medication, therapy, and other resources give you?
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John 8:12 (ESV)

I Am the Light of the World

12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jesus is the light of the world, and He gives us each other to take care of each other and offer help and support. How can you begin talking about mental illness so that you can shine Christ’s light on those who are suffering? What religious or community leaders can you bring into your conversations? In what ways does the love of a community offer suffering people hope?
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Doug described his son and others who suffer mental illness as warriors. Our job is to fight alongside them as we come to know the enemy (mental illness) even better. With time, prayer, the right resources, and God’s grace, we will make progress in the fight and bring comfort to those who are hurting. 

For more information on the Peace of Mind Conference, visit