“Who Brings the Casserole?”


Image Description: Various dishes on a table for a potluck. Public domain image.

Over coffee, I had a meaningful conversation with a person who works with our local chapter of NAMI — the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“Churches and extended community groups know how to provide care for people with cancer. We should be able to do the same thing for people experiencing mental health challenges,” she shared.

When someone is depressed, who brings over the casserole?

When someone is traumatized, who makes phone calls to check on them?

When someone is easily overstimulated or triggered, who accompanies them to the grocery, aiding them in the slew options, colors, and florescent lights?

Good questions. I am grateful that she is bringing these questions to congregations and our wider county.

Later that same evening, I had a phone call with Project UPLIFT. In my staff role with the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, we host an eight week program over the phone for people with epilepsy and depression. I do this with alongside an incredible psychologist who teaches, facilitates, and provides people with tools to manage depression.

I find myself curious about our unquestioned, cultural beliefs… Why is it that we treat certain health conditions with community care but treat people with a mental illness as though their condition is some kind of character flaw? (It’s not). I also find myself curious…Why do we tend to make this big internal dichotomy between physical illness and mental illness, as if mental illness is not also physical? (Of course it is).

These questions keep swirling…

Renee Roederer

One thought on ““Who Brings the Casserole?”

  1. Renee, today’s reflection struck a C-Major chord, six octaves with me. Because of NAMI, people with mental illness are in a much better place. When I was diagnosed in 1986, I disguised the diagnosis as “heart problems.” (ironic?) Eventually, I started several support groups in our community and I still get phone calls from friends, parents, wondering what to do next. Like so many efforts, it comes down to one-on-on-one over coffee, but also, I’ve found that sticking my neck out, like you have, creates safe space. And Facebook has increased my ability to help exponentially. I have an added “benefit”–my daughter has always had severe anxiety and bi-polar illness and she is another conduit, first among her friends and their parents, now as a teacher of psychology and as a mental health counselor. The word is spreading—keep up the good work!


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