Is Mercy Ministries qualified?

This piece by Mercy Survivor Chelsea was originally published on her personal blog, The Pink Propaganda, and can be viewed here.

This is a huge question that a lot of people tend to ask. In my honest opinion, no I do not believe that Mercy Ministries is qualified to be handling severe mental illnesses.

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On page 38 of Ministry Today Nov/Dec 2013 Edition, Nancy Alcorn is quoted as mocking people who do not believe in her ministry, ”I still don’t believe the church can possibly care for all those disturbed girls. Juvenile delinquents and unwed mothers, they’re the ones responsible for their situations, plus we pay taxes so the government can take care of them. Those girls need highly skilled, well educated professionals. A bunch of Christians with good intentions can’t possibly do much good”.

The most important part of that paragraph:

“Those girls need highly skilled, well educated professionals. A bunch of Christians with good intentions can’t possibly do much good”

Good intentions are great, but mental illnesses are serious. If somebody is at a level where they need to be in a residential home, they need monitoring by people who are highly skilled and educated professionals. I feel like a point is being missed here. That she doesn’t get that seriousness of mental illnesses and addictions. I could talk until I’m blue in the face about the temporal lobe and neurotransmitters and really bore you to death.

Sometimes “good intentions” doesn’t follow good protocol. For example, Mercy Ministries believes in reparitive therapy or conversion therapy. Suppressing gayness. Or as they would like to believe “healing” it.

  • The American Medical Association
  • The American Psychiatric Association
  • The American Psychological Association
  • The American Psychoanalytical Association
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The National Association of Social Workers

have all stated that they oppose attempts at reparitive or conversion therapy. That homosexuality is not a choice and cannot be changed, but this doesn’t stop them and their well meaning attitudes from trying to change girls sexuality. I remember many a times girls standing up on the graduation stage, her bags packed and ready to go home and using the words “I used to be a lesbian, but now…”

So how skilled are Mercy Ministries staff? [2]

I took a look at their website and came across a few things that I thought were note worthy.

They prefer a masters degree, but only require a bachelors degree for all counselors. Preferring is not optimal. Requiring is. I also read that someone can be a counselor if they have “experience in Mercy Ministries program”. I assume this to mean you don’t need an education if you know the program. But maybe I am wrong.

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You need a high school education/GED to stay alone with girls who are suicidal, have eating disorders, self harm and been prostituted. For entire weekends. At Mercy Ministries there are two staff members there with you Friday night till Monday morning. For us it was 1:15 ratio. I can’t speak for other locations. If a woman has a crisis in a hospital or other residential center, there are multiple nurses there, doctors arms length away, 24/7. Even in other residential centers it’s the same way. Mercy Ministries often claims “we’re not a medical facility”. But they are taking on medical issues. Whether they like it or not, eating disorders will be fatal until they are over and if they are coming to you, they aren’t over. There is no safe eating disorder. They are ticking time bombs.

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Their registered or non registered dietitians, does not need any experience with eating disorders and yes it matters. There’s refeeding syndrome, medical issues like GERD, IBS, gastroparesis, and severe problems from laxative abuse that may require special diets.

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The closest thing they have to a doctor is a BSN. I’m actually sort of shocked that the require BSNs now and as happy as that made me, it’s still not enough. When I was at Mercy I have to say our “nurse” was not exactly a nurse at all, whatsoever. We had a counselor who had her RN, but she didn’t do much nursing. But in general at least when I was there they took very few girls to the psychiatrist to get medications monitored or adjusted and having a BSN, a BSN that isn’t even required to have any type of mental health background is just not enough. Especially when you have one per location and she’s only there 6-8 hours a day. In the state of California the law is that in a psychiatric ward there be 1:6 ratio of nurses to patients and this doesn’t include the other psychiatric staff. [3] In Mercy Ministries there is 1:40 ratio in California. And for only a third of the day and 5 days of the week. That is unacceptable.

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They want their marketing person to have 8-10 years of experience but don’t require even close to that much for the people who are actually coming in contact with the girls. The girls that are the whole reason for the ministry.

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I am confident that Mercy Ministries and it’s well intentions is not capable of helping a lot of girls with very severe mental illnesses, or traumas. As much as they wish they could. In my opinion their efforts become futile and even harmful. I am confident in saying that they are not equipped and lack supports necessary in combating psychological problems that should be left up to experts.

Written By Chelsea

2 Comments on “Is Mercy Ministries qualified?

  1. nicolamonk

    May 6, 2014 at 11:12

    I realize this is old, but this isn’t necessarily a good line of reasoning. I went to a (secular, state funded) RTC. It dealt with much more severe conditions that MM wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole- like childhood disorganized schizophrenia and students with a history of staff directed violence. It also dealt with eating disorders, depression, self harm, bipolar, borderline, etc. Counselors were the equivalent of camp counselors- basically, babysitters, not therapists. Most had some experience, maybe 75% of the daytime counselors had bachelors degrees, maybe half of those were in relevant fields.

    There were other therapists who conducted individual (1-2x’s weekly for 30-40 minutes), group (1x weekly for 60 minutes), and family therapy (maybe every other week, maybe). We had an RN during the school week who mostly did medication distribution, and we had psychiatrists (a group of them, mostly residents and fellows) in the building once a month. Our dietician solely did meal planning and group therapy with some overweight 10-14 year olds (this was their only group, everyone only had one group week).

    On weekends there were no senior staff (masters level), just dorm staff and a crisis worker (essentially a person who was called in if someone needed restrained, the weekend guy was a former football player).

    Having said all that, it was a decent program, the staff were mostly good, and I have great memories of it. We spent the weekdays in school and in extracurriculars (I was in drama, painting, swimming, and student council), we had jobs that paid some money (I was an art room assistance), and we spent the weekends going to museums, zoos, shopping, etc. When we ‘progressed’ enough we got to go to programs off grounds (I was in a youth arts program and took drivers ed, I also was able to walk to the bookstore and shops on my own).

    It’s not so much the staff make up as the underlying philosophy of the program- this program was essentially trying to give the students a normal, enriching experience and foster healthy relationships. It acknowledged that mental illness was real, but didn’t see it as defining the person. It was far from perfect, but that goes with any program.

  2. The Pink Propaganda (@ThePinkProp)

    June 16, 2014 at 12:51

    Sorry, but no therapy should be given without a degree. No medications should be given without a degree. No dietary advice should be given without a degree. There is a reason why degrees take four years. You learn stuff in that time.

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