Mental Health Ministries

Mental Health and the Coronavirus
COVID-19 Resources

Finding Different Ways of Connecting with One Another

The Coronavirus is a national emergency that has changed our lives. We are bombarded with news about this national emergency. Our daily routines are gone and many of us feel anxious and fearful. We have lost loved ones. With so many closures and cancellations of places and events that have been a part of our daily life, we can feel disoriented and uncertain about the future. Our sense of community and support can be shaken. Even many of our places of worship are closed with services being offered by video. We are having to adapt to this new reality in ways that none of us could have imagined. Self-care becomes even more important. As this outbreak continues to unfold, be sure to take steps to renew your own energy and hope in the Spirit of God.

COVID-19 Recommended Preventative Practices and FAQs for Faith-Based and Community Leaders

(PDF, English)

Faith-based and community leaders continue to be valuable sources of comfort and support for their members and communities during times of distress, including the growing presence of COVID-19 in different parts of the country. As such, these leaders have the unique ability to address potential concerns, fears, and anxieties regarding COVID-19. Additionally, by reiterating simple hygienic precautions and practices, these leaders can broadly promote helpful information, managing fear and stigma, and restoring a sense of calm into the lives of those in their care. 

Such leaders are also poised ― through their acts of service and community relationships ― to reach vulnerable populations with essential information and assistance. These acts of service are an essential part of the safety net for the vulnerable in their communities.

Article – Seven Trends to Watch in 2021

A thoughtful article from The Christian Century addresses how COVID has changed our faith communities. Faith, vision, creativity, and perseverance will be the qualities most needed by our churches going forward. Among the trends identified by Steven Martin is the fact that today possibilities for sharing faith are unparalleled in history.

Martin lifts up seven trends to watch for as faith communities look to the future. He states, “Communications technology has revolutionized life in this century, and for better or worse, we’re living in a different world than the one we had just a few years ago. This has positive ramifications for church leaders. As many have seen online services reach more people than would normally attend an in-person service, the church has been released from the confines of time and space. Ministry can be available 24/7 (without the pastor being available as well!) and reach into corners previously unreachable.”

Article – Emotional Resilience for Clergy and Congregations In These Trying Times

Resilience graphicNo one has escaped the impact of COVID-19. Stress, tragedy, trauma, disease, economic and interpersonal difficulties are knocking some of us down. As we look up from the floor, our perspective can be skewed. We see only this moment and in doing so, can succumb to overwhelming helplessness.

The UCC Mental Health Network (United Church of Christ Mental Health Network) – Working to reduce stigma & promote the inclusion of people with mental illnesses/brain disorders offers concrete ways to build emotional resilience.

Emotional Resilience in Trying Times (Article 1/16/2021)

Article – Mental Health in the Pandemic

Ministry Matters - Uncertainty GraphicFundamentally, we are all experiencing a kind of trauma. The more we remind each other of this fact and tell one another that it is okay to not feel like we are flourishing right now, the more we can relieve some of the guilt and pressure we might feel. For churches who are used to springing into action, it can be tempting to institute new programs or ministries to address the suffering in our midst. However, this simply tacks on yet another task, when so many people are struggling to stay afloat.

If you are currently part of a church without an active mental health ministry, now is probably not the time to start one. On the other hand, the community care already active within the church can be meaningful. Sending handwritten cards, making phone calls and dropping off baked goods are a few ways of staying connected and finding a purpose during this difficult time. Giving one another grace if we are slow to respond or drop the ball is another way the church can model care for one another right now. Though there is always a temptation to prove our worth through doing more, now might be the time to step back and slow down.

Ministry Matters™ | Mental health in the pandemic

Article – Faith and COVID-19: The Christian Chronicle's Top Stories on the Coronavirus Pandemic

Christian Chronicle Covid-19 ResourcesThe Christian Chronicle is an international newsletter for Churches of Christ. It offers in-depth coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. From Christians battling the virus to churches working to slow its spread, articles are available at Faith and COVID-19 | The Christian Chronicle

Article – The Everyday and the Wondrous—A Prayer on the Occasion of Receiving the Coronavirus Vaccine

Coronavirus VaccineRev. Michael Woolf wrote a prayer to be recited upon receiving the coronavirus vaccine for members of his congregation and for the wider world. “In a time where some religious communities are skeptical of the coronavirus vaccine, this prayer is an attempt to sacralize the experience, and to say emphatically that we will be receiving the vaccine when available and I encourage you to do so as well. When you do receive the vaccine, you will not do it alone; you will be held in the love of God.”

 Sustainer of All,

Hold me in your care as I receive this vaccine,
The work of scientists, the labor of healthcare professionals.
Bless the swirl of molecules and antibodies,
the mystical give-and-take of my body.
 
Remove from me fear,
For many have gone down this path before me,
And many shall go after me.
You made all things and called them good.
 
Open my heart to gratitude,
Even in the midst of much suffering.
I give thanks for this jab,
A strange way to receive a blessing.
 
Stir my conscience to consideration of others,
That I may not forget my mask just because I am protected.
Remind me of my obligations to my community and myself,
And give me courage to receive my next dose.
 
Awaken me to vulnerability,
While I am a soul of light, I am an embodied being.
Draw near to me this day,
As I choose to celebrate life and community.
Amen.

Article – Faith Groups Step Up to Host Vaccine Sites. Why Churches Are Key Places, Especially for People of Color

Across the country, more faith-based groups are stepping up as vaccine sites, particularly in communities of color, which have been disproportionately hard hit by the novel coronavirus.

Churches have often been a cornerstone in the fight against inequities and a trusted source of information and guidance during troubled times. During the pandemic, vaccinations have become the latest public service in a health and economic crisis that has seen places of worship offer canned food, clothing, housing and other assistance.

COVID vaccine sites: Churches offer vaccinations to help US rollout (usatoday.com)

Article – Why Religious Congregations May be Crucial to Halting the Spread of COVID-19

If ever religious and scientific communities need to join together in pursuing wholeness and healing for the world, it’s now. Many studies over the past decade show us that congregations are often the first and most trusted responders in the most vulnerable communitiesPeople are more likely to turn to their faith communities during times of anxiety and emergency. We need to use our churches, synagogues, mosques and temples to bring accurate scientific and medical information to our congregations. We need to be sure that religious leaders have accurate and up-to-date information to pass on to their congregations to slow the rate of disease spread. View the article at Religion News Service.

Resources – Faith and COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 is a global crisis that needs all communities across the world, together with governments, UN entities, and broad civil society organizations, to join forces in keeping people safe and well. As an international learning exchange, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities offers a wide variety of interfaith resources to address faith and COVID-19.

They affirm the unique roles played by religious leaders of all faiths in influencing values, attitudes, behaviors and actions that affect the development and wellbeing of the world’s children. This initiative just launched global guidance documents for religious leaders and faith communities.

Article – Faith and Spirituality During Coronavirus

Coronavirus and COVID-19 have brought a flood of fear and uncertainty for many of us. We have a 24-hour news cycle that consumes us. We’ve been told not to leave our houses unless we must. Most of our lives are in sudden upheaval as we adjust to a “new normal” for an unforeseen amount of time.

Sometimes we don’t know where to turn for support. While this global pandemic is unique in many ways, these feelings of fear and isolation are nothing new. Many of our religious and spiritual traditions have been poised to respond to times of crisis since time immemorial.  This article provides some helpful ways to deal with grief, self-care, prayer and worship, mindfulness and other resources.

View the article at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Book –  #INTHISTOGETHER: Ministry in Times of Crisis

(Available on Judson Press)

In a world still reeling from pandemic and in a nation confronting the persistence of racism and systemic injustice, the timely book #InThisTogether: Ministry in Times of Crisis edited by Curtis Ramsey-Lewis responds to questions about what we are learning during these crises about: God, our nation, ourselves, neighborliness and the church.

Article – Spiritual Practices for the Coronavirus Pandemic

Spiritual Practices for the Corona Pandemic provides links to spiritual practices to disarm fear and uncertainty, use while taking preventative measures, handle social distancing and quarantine, be present with illness, and sustain hope.

Mental Health Wellness Tips for Quarantine

(PDF, English)

A clinician whole name I do not know has put together an excellent list of 25 Mental Wellness Tips for Quarantine. He/she says, “I am a doctoral level Psychologist in NYS with a Psy.D. in the specialties of School and Clinical Psychology.”

NAMI COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information and Resources

The NAMI HelpLine has prepared an in-depth guide with tips and resources for people who are experiencing anxiety, loneliness and other hardships due to the spread of the Coronavirus. You can share it with anyone who might be struggling or have questions about managing a mental health condition during this time.

Additional information and updates at nami.org/covid-19

If you feel in need of support and help, don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends or the NAMI HelpLine Monday through Friday from 10:00 am-6:00 pm (EDT) at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org. If you or a loved one is in crisis, you can text "NAMI" TO 741741.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers these tips for people living with mental illness.

1. For anyone who is unsure about attending therapy sessions outside the home, especially those who the CDC has described as being at higher risk, you can ask your health care provider about tele-therapy or mental health services online.
2. For anyone who is worried about access to prescribed medications, you can ask your health care provider about getting 90-day supplies vs. a 60 or 30-day supply. If this is not possible, we encourage you to refill your medications as soon as they are allowed.
3. Listen to and follow your local public health care provider expectations.
4. Provide self-care, especially if in the higher risk population as defined by the CDC. Pay attention to emerging symptoms. Reach out to family and friends

These are some links to helpful articles concerning mental health and the Coronavirus:

Article – 10 Guidelines for Pastoral Care During the Coronavirus Outbreak

This article from The Christianity Century offers 10 brief guidelines for how ministers, chaplains, counselors, and educators can accompany people pastorally through this valley of anxiety, fear, and death.

Article – Looking After Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times. This article from the Mental Health Association offers some tips to help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.

Article – Be the Least Anxious Person in the (Virtual) Room

Rev. Margaret Marcuson writes in the Christian Citizen: However fast COVID-19 may be spreading, the anxiety about it has spread faster and to far more people. I’m sure literally billions of people have caught the anxiety. Over a billion children have seen their schools close, and those children have parents. People of all ages are anxious about this virus.

It’s impossible to be in a climate like this and not be affected by the anxiety swirling around. What’s a leader to do? You can’t manage other people’s anxiety for them, but you can work on your own. The good news is that right now you can still be anxious and still be “the least anxious person in the room,” as Dr. Murray Bowen used to say. The room may be a virtual room right now, but the work is the same.

Child-friendly Resource to Explain Coronavirus

We need to provide spiritual psychosocial support for children. We can be present and listen to children. It is important to provide structure, routine and clarity about what is happening around them. Providing information to children in age-appropriate ways that they can understand is also important. This resource provides an explanation of the Coronavirus appropriate for young children.

PEW RESEARCH STUDY – Few Americans Say Their House of Worship is Open, but a Quarter Say Their Faith Has Grown Amid Pandemic

Pastor leading service in parking lotOne-quarter of U.S. adults overall (24%) say their faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 2% say their faith has become weaker. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered religious faith and worship habits. Some Americans say their religious faith has strengthened as a result of the outbreak, even as the vast majority of U.S. churchgoers report that their congregations have closed regular worship services to the public, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Americans in historically black Protestant churches and those who describe themselves as very religious are particularly likely to say their faith has strengthened.

For more information, visit the Pew Research website

Article – Ministry during a pandemic: An invitation to re-imagine ministry in our new media landscape?

Hands typing on laptopRev. Dr. Angela Gorrell writes in the Christian Citizen, “Ministry leaders who until weeks ago had not heard of Zoom, had never used Facebook Live, and had not even imagined ever needing to upload a video to YouTube are suddenly using new media to preach, to counsel, and to continue other forms of ministry work. Christian leaders are rightly overwhelmed by the myriad rapid changes that they have had to make in response to COVID-19. I imagine many are anxious to have churches filled again and for things to get back to normal—whatever normal has meant for them prior to the global pandemic that has disrupted everyone’s routines.

At the same time, I am curious about what would happen if we viewed this moment differently. What if we saw this time of disruption not as simply a time to tolerate changes to ministry, but as a divine invitation to shift our perspective on ministry in a new media landscape?”

Article –  Ways of Protecting Religious Older Adults from the Consequences of COVID-19

Harold G. Koenig M.D. writes in the American Journal of Geriactric Psychiatry, “For many, this is an anxious time, especially for older adults who are those most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. This anxiety and the accompanying emotional distress by themselves are known to increase susceptibility to infection, with increasing impact due to immune function decreases with aging. Religious beliefs and practices are known to help individuals cope with times of stress, and in many studies are associated with less anxiety and greater hope, especially in older adult populations. There is also research showing that religiosity is associated with greater resistance to viral infection and lower viral load.”

Ministry During Pandemic – Free Resource

Ministry During Pandemic: Awareness to ImplementationA free downloadable resource from Judson Press - Chaplains and ministers are on the forefront of spiritual care ministry during pandemic. No one person or one agency will be able to meet the needs of the thousands—the millions—that are affected by pandemic. What are the threats? What are the needs? What are the spiritual issues? In this prescient book, initially developed 10 years ago and now updated in light of the current historical moment, Judson Press author and experienced chaplain Naomi Paget offers this timely resource for Ministry during Pandemic—absolutely free. Download now and learn how to increase your awareness, make preparations, and implement strategies for ministry, even (and especially) while under stay-at-home mandates and self-quarantines.

Click here for the PDF 

Article – Ministering with Families in the Ongoing Pandmeic

Ministering with Families in the Ongoing PandemicEmily Peck McClain for Resource UMC describes the very real challenges children, youth, and families face during this time of upheaval and distance from physical church. She offers practical suggestions for how congregations can meet their material, spiritual, and emotional needs.

The Blessing of the Masks

The Blessing of the MasksMay our Good and Loving Creator bless these masks and the hands that made them
May these coverings of love and smiles reveal eyes that speak and cry
May they speak for the heart within, beating for life and breath
May these masks be as life-giving as trees
May masks mirror our kinship with Sister, Mother Earth
~ Moe Nieman and Nell Wulff

Article – The Covid-19 Tests Everyone's Spiritual Well-Being, Athiests and Believers Alike

The Covid-19 Tests Everyone's Spiritual Well-being, Athiests and Believers AlikeThis article, written by Eric Hall for NBC News, shares how chaplains can support persons dealing with all the emotions that we are experiencing during this time of Covid-19. He writes, “During a major crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to make sure that everyone is getting spiritual care. While it’s difficult to generalize about this finding, chaplains often see people who have, in the midst of all of the suffering experienced by themselves and others, found the peace that comes from spiritual grounding in the face of tragedy. In the midst of this pandemic, we have all heard numerous stories of the “heroes” who put themselves and their families at risk of sickness and death in order to care for others. This group includes front-line health care providers and first responders, of course, but also people like bus drivers and grocery clerks. Keying into the inspiration and community they provide can be powerful antidotes to the loss and despair that could otherwise overwhelm us, religious and nonreligious alike.”