The holidays are upon us. They are supposed to be a time of joy, parties and gatherings with friends and family. But the holidays can be a stressful time under the best of conditions. The commercialization of the holiday season bombards us with unrealistic expectations. With one in four families living with a family member with a mental illness, dealing with relatives and friends who do not understand a person’s illness can be difficult.
The brochure, Mental Illness: Coping with the Holidays, provides helpful self care tips for persons living with a mental illness, tips for families and friends and tips for communities of faith.
You can download this resource from the Mental Health Ministries website in English or Spanish. There is a link to this resource on the Mental Health Ministries home page or you can find it in the Other Resources section on the website under Brochures.
One of the achievements of Mental Health Ministries in 2007 is the release of a new DVD resource, Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression and Families of Faith. This ecumenical resource is divided into five segments and includes a discussion guide. Mental health professionals provide background information on the symptoms and treatment of postpartum depression. Two women share their personal stores and how their experience with PPD affected their faith and recovery. The last segment gives ideas for how faith communities can respond.
It is important for persons of all ages (I am a Grandma!) to recognize the symptoms of the various forms of PPD in order to provide support and seek professional help if necessary.
Information on ordering this DVD and a downloadable brochure and discussion guide are available on the Home page of the Mental Health Ministries website, www.MentalHealthMinistries.net.
out of the shadow is an award-winning documentary produced by filmmaker Susan Smiley. She turns the camera on her own family and the story of her family’s struggle to deal with her mother’s schizophrenia within the confines of the public health system. It is a provocative and courageous film that has been hailed as a critical tool for raising public awareness about mental illness and how it affects families. Study guides for mental health professionals, primary care providers, families and high school students have been written for use with this documentary.
I had the privilege of working with Susan to produce a Discussion Guide for Faith Leaders & Communities of Faith. The DVD comes with Spanish and English subtitles. For more information on ordering this DVD and discussion guide, visit www.outoftheshadow.com or order by calling (310) 636-0116.
Family Voices on Mental Illness is a new campaign of public radio spots using interviews from the Shadow Voices: Finding Hope in Mental Illness documentary to educate the public about the prevalence of mental illness in our country and the stigma that still surrounds these illnesses. Produced by Mennonite Media with help from Faith & Values Media, the 12-15 thirty-and sixty-second spots will share the experiences, joy and pain of persons with mental illnesses and their family members. Stanley Schroeder, who is married to Susan Gregg-Schroeder, provides insights on a number of the spots, along with Rosalynn Carter, Dr. Joyce Burland, head of the NAMI Family to Family program, and others. The campaign encourages the general public to find ways to be supportive of families and those struggling with mental illness. The spots will be sent to about 10,000 radio stations in late December. Churches or community groups can also contact stations about the importance of getting this message out and a CD with these radio spots will be available next year through Mennonite Media at www.mennomedia.org.
FaithNet NAMI has a new website address to make it easier to access the site directly. It is www.faithnet.nami.org. This website continues to be one of the most frequently visited sections of the NAMI National website and gets approximately 150,000 “hits” per month. I encourage you to register to receive their e-mail updates and to visit the site to see what our faith communities are doing.
I received many inquiries and prayers during the devastating fires in San Diego and other parts of California. We were all vulnerable as the unpredictable winds devastated our communities and forced a million persons to evacuate. Many of my clergy colleagues were part of this evacuation. But in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty, persons from all faith traditions opened their doors to evacuees, gathered food and other necessities for the evacuation centers, provided food and drink to weary fire fighters, acted as translators and mobilized hundreds of volunteers. Many of these volunteers also had homes in danger. Parishioners with medical training helped persons evacuate from nursing or convalescent hospitals. With the closure of our schools, teachers came to Qualcomm Stadium to help support the children. Others came to offer a listening ear and the ministry of presence.
God was very present in the midst of the fire storms. For a time, differences were set aside. We were united in the realization of our interconnectedness. Our faith communities are in a unique position to continue to extend hospitality and counseling in the weeks and months following this disaster. Fact sheets on helping persons cope with the post traumatic stress following a natural disaster or other traumatic event can be found on the Mental Health America website at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster . I also recommend the Sidran Institute's book, Risking Connection in Faith Communities: A Training Curriculum for Faith Leaders Supporting Trauma available at http://www.sidran.org/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_id=9
Because Mental Health Ministries receives no financial support from the church, we depend on people like you to ensure that we can continue to provide resources to address spirituality and mental illness. Gifts to Mental Health Ministries are tax deductible and can be sent to the address below. Even if you are not able to make a financial gift, we hope that you spread the word about this outreach with others.
Read at the lighting of the White House Christmas tree on December 1, 2005. Maya Angelou's long poem, Amazing Peace, celebrates the common bonds shared by people of all faiths.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of peace.
We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister
Peace, My Soul.
I wish you all peace of mind, body and spirit this holiday season.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119