First Baptist Kissimmee addresses mental health crisis in community

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KISSIMMEE–When community leaders speak, leaders at First Baptist Church of Kissimmee listen and take action.

Senior Pastor Tim Wilder and his team recently surveyed local community leaders, including law enforcement, commissioners and school administrators from the church’s seven partner schools, asking two questions: “What do you think are the greatest needs in our community?” and “How do you think our church can help meet those needs?”

The answer to the first question was unanimous. Mental illness is the greatest need in the community.

Wilder wasn’t surprised, saying, “I have seen and heard the mental health crisis grow in our own church.”

Kissimmee is not alone in the mental health crisis.

An online report published by Mental Health America stated:

  • Of the more than 340 million Americans, 50 million (21%) experience mental illness.
  • Florida ranks 46th out of 50 of states unable to provide access to care for mentally ill adults.
  • Sixty percent of youth with increased depression cannot receive mental health treatment.
  • More than 5.5 million (11%) of adults with mental illness are uninsured. Ten percent of youth with private insurance do not have coverage for mental illness or emotional difficulties.
  • Florida ranks 40th out of 50 states, with a 13.6% prevalence of mental illness uncovered by insurance.

These statistics are more than just numbers. They represent individuals and families who are struggling and often feel alone in their struggles, Wilder believes.

No family should walk through a mental health crisis alone. We all need a support system.

Tim Wilder Senior pastor, First Baptist Church of Kissimmee

“No family should walk through a mental health crisis alone. We all need a support system,” he said.

To respond to the mental health crisis in the community, Wilder, who has served First Baptist Church of Kissimmee for 38 years, led his church to form a partnership with another trusted ministry in the area.

“I don’t mind working with other trusted Christian ministries,” the pastor said, citing Galatians 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Under Wilder’s leadership, the congregation opened the doors of The Foundation Counseling Center ministry at First Baptist Church of Kissimmee on Aug. 20 to offer hope to Kissimmee community residents and individuals from surrounding counties who are struggling with mental health issues. The center offers mental health treatment to those in need on a sliding scale cost based on family income and size. Otherwise, many of these individuals might go untreated.

Through this new initiative, Wilder hopes that his church will be a part of improving mental health in the community, seeking to “break the silence of mental health suffering and stop the stigma.”

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