Mark and Kim Burnette started Renewed Minds, a support group which helps those with mental illness.
ALBANY, Ga. — As someone who has been treated for anxiety, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder — and also has a son suffering from mental illness — Kim Burnette herself has had her share of experience when it comes to the stigma of such issues.
Six months ago, she and her husband, Mark Burnette, started a ministry at Byne Memorial Baptist Church to address the helplessness that sometimes comes with mental illness — and it is gaining momentum.
Over the next few weeks, during Mental Health Awareness Month, the group will be working to ramp up awareness and unravel misconceptions about mental health.
Much of this will be done through video clips during the church’s services, as well as through fundraising in-between services to help offset expenses incurred by helping people who come to the group in need, Kim Burnette said.
“We try to help out as much as we can,” she said. “Some can’t even afford meds.”
In addition, on the occasions in which there is a fifth Tuesday during a month, there will be educational sessions conducted at Byne to get more information out in the open regarding mental illness.
“A lot of people don’t realize that we are not monsters,” Kim Burnette said.
On a regular basis, there are up to 12 people who attend the Renewed Minds sessions. So far, success has been achieved with the people who have come in dealing with what Kim Burnette calls “the three-legged stool.”
“(Attendees are learning that) it can be managed, but this is just the beginning,” she said. “I’ve seen people come alive in group. It gives them a lot of hope.
“I love this group. This has really been amazing.”
This is something that is reflected through the words of the Renewed Minds members themselves.
“At Renewed Minds we have time to check in with each other with time to look at scripture and reflect on the meaning,” Elizabeth Dede, a member of the group, said in an emailed statement. “We talk with each other about how it resonates with us. Renewed Minds helps me because I need the time with others. I rely on this to keep me healthy.
“Many times I have been at the point of suicide, but Renewed Minds has kept me safe.”
Information available from Mental Health America indicates that there is an average of one in four people who are living with a mental illness.
“In church, you may see someone that has something hidden,” Kim Burnette said. “We don’t want people to be afraid because they don’t know.
“We want people (with a mental illness) to feel like they can walk into a church. This is an illness, and people don’t understand that.”
The group meets on the first and third Tuesday of the month at Byne beginning at 7 p.m. For more information on the group or how to help with outreach efforts, contact Kim Burnette at (229) 288-1986, Mark Burnette at (229) 288-1925 or visit http://renewedmindsatbyne.blogspot.com.