Most education programs in faith communities happen because persons with a mental illness and their family members share their stories with the clergy and leadership of their congregation. Too often faith leaders are not informed about mental illness and may not know how to provide appropriate pastoral care or begin an outreach to persons and families living with mental illness.
The first week of October has been designated as Mental Illness Awareness Week. This e-Spotlight will include information and resources to help your community prepare for this educational opportunity.
We are again featuring our VHS resource on Addiction and Depression because SAMHSA and other national organizations are celebrating Addiction Recovery Month this September. Many persons struggling with a mental illness will abuse substances as a way of self medicating. The latest federal Household Survey estimates more than 23 million Americans over the age of 12 meet the criteria for alcohol and drug dependence. Recovery Month is a time to celebrate individuals in recovery and those who support them. It is also an opportunity for faith groups to educate congregations about substance abuse and other mental health issues. For more information, visit the Recovery Month website at www.recoverymonth.gov.
Resource Overview: Addiction to alcohol and/or drugs often masks an underlying depression. The link between addiction and depression can cause a downward spiral leading to severe health problems, especially suicide. Three persons share their stories of addiction and depression that end in recovery and hope.
Length of Resource - 17:45 minutes; Study Guide Included
The National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) will be held on October 11. NDSD screening sites are sponsored by hospitals, mental health centers, government agencies, social service agencies, advocacy organizations, colleges, primary care clinics, workplaces, healthcare companies AND some faith communities. For more information or to find screening sites in your area, visit www.MentalHealthScreening.org. You are encouraged to inform people in your congregation about screening sites in your area.
The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, October 9. This day of prayer was initiated by Angela Vickers, JD of NAMI Florida and Gunnar Christiansen, MD of NAMI California in 2004. It has had widespread support by individual congregations and National Faith Community Mental Illness Networks. The prayers and actions of both faith communities and secular organizations (e.g. NAMI, NMHA, DBSA, OCF, ADAA, etc.) are needed to restore mental wellness in America. In seeking God's guidance, we can recommit ourselves to replacing misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with truth and love in order to offer hope to all who are touched by mental illness.
There is a free downloadable resource on the Mental Health Ministries website on the Resources and Links page with sample liturgies that you can adapt to your community. Pathways to Promise provided the Prayer of Confession, I wrote the pastoral prayer and Carole J. wills with FaithCEP Indianapolis wrote the interfaith candle lighting service.
Thanks to INGENIUM ABP, the National Day of Prayer resource is now available in Spanish .
The NAMI National Convention was held in San Diego in June. The FaithNet table included resources from Dr. Gunnar Christiansen, Pathways to Promise, FaithCEP and a new book by Angela Vickers.
Pathways to Promise (www.pathways3promise.org) has an excellent website and resources for purchase. They recently completed a poster project funded by the American Psychiatric Foundation and are currently exploring another grant possibility.
Carole Wills is the Faith Communities Education Project (FaithCEP) chairperson and president of NAMI Indianapolis. A comprehensive list of resources is available on the FaithCEP website, www.congregationalresources.org/mentalhealth.asp
Attorney Angela Vickers has written a new book, Brain Bondage. The book targets six professions...the media, faith communities, medicine, therapy, education and law...explaining how each can end stigma and promote mental wellness and justice. For more information visit www.angelavickers.net .
Mental Health Ministries is in the final stages of production on our new DVD resource, Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression and Families of Faith. The DVD will include a pdf discussion guide.
I was delighted to connect with the two NAMI persons organizing conferences for the fall where I will be speaking.
Fresno, California - October 11, 2007 - Fresno Faith & Mental Health: Spirituality and Mental Health as Partners in the Journey to Wellness and Recovery. For more information, contact NAMI Fresno at 559-224-2469 or Helen Ruth Siporin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Boulder, Colorado - October 18, 2007 - Sharing the Promise of Hope and Healing: Mental Health and Faith Communities. Visit their website at www.namibouldercounty.org/interfaithconf
I hope you will find some helpful resources...both media and downloadable articles and brochures on the Mental Health Ministries website. The months of October and May are opportunities to partner with community groups to provide education on mental health issues.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119