Mental Health Ministries

MHM Spotlight - December 2008


Coping with the HolidaysThe 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 especially in this troubled economy. 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.

NOTE: All of our brochures, bulletin inserts and other print resources are available for download at no cost.


A new brochure describing the mission of NAMI FaithNet will soon be available for download or purchase from the NAMI store at NAMI store: A NAMI FaithNet mission and vision statement is available at

NAMI FaithNET, NAMI National's information resource network for NAMI members, faith communities and community partners, prepares a monthly e-newsletter. Its purpose is to provide announcements about current events, resources and projects related to spirituality and mental health . It will help NAMI members and other interested persons learn about your organization and events happening across the county. 50-100 word submissions should be sent to by the last Thursday of each month.

You are encouraged to visit the NAMI FaithNet website at and sign up to receive monthly e-newsletters.


In March 2005, CMHS sponsored a dialogue between consumers of mental health services and representatives of various sectors of the primary health system. I was privileged to be a part of this dialogue. In an effort to develop improved mutual understanding, respect, and partnerships, the two dozen participants accomplished the following:

Identified issues involving mental health consumers and their experiences with primary care providers, including those that both hinder and help recovery; and

Developed recommendations regarding attitudinal shifts and systems transformation that can lead to improved mental and general health care responses to people with mental illnesses by primary care and mental health providers.

The findings and recommendations from the dialogue are summarized in this publication that can be downloaded with this link.

Building Bridges: Mental Health Consumers and Primary Health Care Representatives in Dialogue


As a nonprofit ministry, Mental Health Ministries accepts and appreciates donations. Gifts are 100% tax deductible. We rely on your gifts to help us continue to provide educational resources to erase the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities.


We are phasing out our VHS resources in preparation for an exciting new resource for 2009! All VHS resources have been marked down to $10. Ordering on line will reflect the sale price. For quantity orders of any of our DVD or VHS resources, contact Susan for a reduced rate.


The Holiday Season: Finding Light in the Darkness

Candle We are entering into a festive season. The winter holidays are meant to be times of joy, parties and gatherings with friends and families. But for many people this is a lonely stretch of the year marked by hard memories and unrealized dreams.

The commercialization of the holiday season bombards us with unrealistic expectations, especially in these difficult economic times. It is not unusual for people to experience a decrease in energy and motivation. But some people experience an exaggerated form of these symptoms. Their depression and lack of energy become debilitating. This condition, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may affect over 10 million Americans. The milder, "Winter Blues" affects an even larger number of individuals.

But for those of us who live with serious mental illness all year long, the holidays can make us feel even more alone, isolated and disconnected from friends, family and from our God. Psalm 88 reflects that feeling from an emotional spiritual perspective. "You have put me in the depths of the pit, in the regions dark and deep." "Lord, why do you cast me off? Why do you hide your faith from me?"

The cold landscape and trees empty of their leaves reflects our inner winter. Having been in this place, I now understand that God is working in our silent darkness. As with nature, we can trust that new tender shoots will emerge from the dark, silent soil to bring unlimited possibilities of new life.

It is for this reason that I wrote a brochure, Mental Illness: Coping with the Holidays. This brochure provides tips for persons living with a mental illness, tips for family and friends and tips for faith communities wanting to be supportive. Family, friends and caring faith communities can remind us that we are loved and accepted by God even when we feel unworthy and alone.

Many churches realize the importance of acknowledging the grief, loneliness and depression associated with the holiday season by holding special services like "Blue Christmas." Rituals often focus on light breaking through the darkness. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ who will become the "light of the world." The eight day Jewish celebration of Hanukkah is known as the Festival of Lights serves to remind their people of the miracle which re-kindled the Temple menorah light at a time of darkness and despair.

I now know that no matter what the circumstances, we are not alone in the darkness. God is working in our lives even when we are not aware of it to bring about healing and hope. This holiday season, may we be open to those moments of grace when flickers of light break in to penetrate our darkness.

Break into my confusion, Lord.
Help me to know who I am
and what I am meant to be.
Guide, uphold and strengthen me
as I leave behind the world
of limits and labels.
Guide, uphold and strengthen me
as together we create a world
of infinite possibility.

Have a blessed holiday season,


Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119