Michael Perron is one of my sponsors in recovery. He is also a minister who created and runs the Life Recovery Program at Prestonwood Baptist Church. This program has been very influential in my recovery and was instrumental in saving my life from addiction and mental illness.
Michael himself struggled for over 15 years with addiction to drugs and alcohol. In this episode he talks about a spiritual encounter that he had, that turned his life around and set him on a path to ministry and dedicating his life to helping others.
We dig into the role of Churches and faith-based organizations in helping people who struggle with addiction, mental illness, and mental health differences. We talked at length about how the Church sometimes handles this in ways that promote stigma and do not encourage wellness.
Michael explains how faith-based organizations can be effective in helping people who are struggling as well as the loved ones of those who are experiencing mental health differences and substance abuse issues. He also talks about how the federal government is getting involved in supporting churches in this effort via the Department of Health and Human Services.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS WE TALKED ABOUT:
- Michael shares his story of recovery from addiction. He talks about his upbringing, and how he ended up struggling with addiction for over 15 years, and eventually, how he got help.
- Michael shared about an encounter he had one day where he went to church, did drugs in the bathroom, and was approached publicly by a woman who told him that “God will restore the years the locusts have eaten.” From that moment, Michael explains that God did for him what Michael could not do for himself.
- We talk about the role of the Church, and other faith-based organizations, in helping people recover from addiction and dealing with the mental health struggles that people face. Michael explains that over 80% of the population approaches a clergy member about mental health issues first. The Church is playing and will play a vital role in triage, and first response to mental health issues.
- What makes people feel like they can’t come to church for help? We talked about the stigma within the church, and the way the church has either mishandled mental health or addiction struggles in the past or even outright denied the existence of the problems.
- We talked about one of the primary roles of the church being to educate people about mental health, addiction, recovery and be a resource for those struggling as well as the family members of those who are struggling.
- What should the relationships between the church and mental health professionals look like? Michael explained how the church can be engaged in helping people, as well as facilitating getting people to the right place for them. Some people need a licensed counselor, some people need treatment, some people need AA, and some people just need community. The church needs to build relationships with people who have been through these struggles and become aware of resources in their area.
- What is the role of the government in working with churches around mental health? Michael talks about what the White House, and politicians are doing to work with churches to make the churches a first line of defense in the efforts to get help to people.
- We talked about specific ways churches and faith-based organizations can support people who are struggling with addiction, mental health, and who are trying to help their loved ones who are going through these difficulties in life.