Mental Illness Awareness Week is the first week in October. This is a wonderful opportunity to partner with community groups in your area to raise awareness about mental illness. This e-Spotlight will include information and resources to help you make the most of this educational opportunity.
The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, October 6. 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.
You can download a resource with liturgies to use for the National Day of Prayer on the Home page of the Mental Health Ministries website. This resource is available in English and Spanish. Many faith communities have sponsored an interfaith candle lighting service using a liturgy written by Carole J. Wills that is included in this resource. These prayers and liturgies, however, can be used at any time during the year.
We know that persons are more likely to go to their faith leader first with mental health problems than to mental health professionals. Yet studies show that most clergy are not effective in providing appropriate support or referrals. There are many reasons for this. Much of the work of Mental Health Ministries is to provide resources to educate faith leaders and congregations about mental illness and how they can support persons and families living with these “no fault” illnesses.
The National Depression Screening Day will be held on Thursday, October 8th, 2009. 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. These screening programs now include both in-person and online programs for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, alcohol problems and suicide prevention. There is a special link for persons in the military.
It is important to let members of your congregation know about screening sites in your area. If we can reach persons with undetected and untreated mental disorders, we can encourage them to seek appropriate treatment. If we talk about mental illness like any other illness, we will help to reduce the stigma and shame associated with these brain disorders. It is also helpful if faith leaders have the names of local mental health professionals and organizations in order to provide appropriate referral information at any time of the year.
For more information, visit www.MentalHealthScreening.org and click on “For the Public” to the link “find a screening site in your area” tab.
Approximately 19 million Americans experience depression. We have included the Zung Self Rating Depression Scale on the Home page of our website.
Another simple 20-question quiz that can help identify common symptoms of depression and their severity is available at http://www.lexapro.com/check_symptoms/dep_screener.aspx. This quick inventory was developed by A. John Rush, MD, a leading psychiatrist and author from the University of Texas Medical Center. It is adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 1994.
Remember—depression is more than just feeling down. It is a real medical condition that can be effectively treated, but first you must seek help. These tools can be used for you or given to others.
We have also added two spiritual assessment tools to the website to help mental health professionals find ways to include a person’s faith and spirituality in the treatment and recovery process. Included on the Home page and under Resources and Links you can download the following tools for spiritual assessment.
FICA: Personal Spiritual Assessment
FICA: Taking a Spiritual History
Veteran's Day is Wednesday, November 11. It is a time to honor and remember our military veterans...past and present. We can make a difference in the lives of millions of people if we not only remember, but also reach out to support the troops returning from combat service.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has become a major mental health issue as our veterans return from serving in the war. The Rand Corporation recently released a study estimating that one in five U.S. service members who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffers from major depression or combat stress. We are seeing an increase in combat stress, addiction, domestic violence and suicide. Too often the ethic is to be silent about combat related mental health problems. Only half of those with mental health problems seek treatment.
Mental Health Ministries is offering an interfaith Veteran's Day resource that can be used as a bulletin insert or flyer. It can be printed on both sides and cut in half to save paper. We hope this will raise the important issues faced by our returning troops and give your faith community some ideas on how to be supportive. This resource is available in English and in Spanish. We also have an article, How Faith Communities Can Help Veteran’s and Their Families Readjust by VA Chaplain, David Lundell.
The first step in creating “caring congregations” is education. Once mental illness is a “safe” topic to talk about, your congregation can begin to find ways to minister to and with persons with a mental illness and their families. Each congregation is unique. We are gratified that some of our resources have been helpful in breaking down the barriers of fear, ignorance and stigma associated with illnesses of the brain.
Many of you have found your own creative and effective ways of raising awareness about mental illness. You can read some of the ideas that have worked for other communities in the Your Ideas section of our website. We encourage you to submit your own ideas for inclusion in this section.
We have put the best of our educational videos on our two DVD set to help educate faith communities about various mental health issues. The shows on the set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond, are “user-friendly” and short enough to be used in a variety of settings including classes and small groups. Each segment has a discussion guide with background information, questions for discussion and where to find additional resources.
These eight shows cover a variety of mental health issues. Professionals provide important information about each illness. But mostly you will hear from real people who live with these brain disorders. Each segment presents an issue related to the experience of mental illness, puts a face to the issue and offers a message of hope.
LIST OF SHOWS
Coming Out of the Dark (Interfaith Introduction, (Length: 53 seconds)
Mental Illness in Different Age Groups (Length: 17:39 minutes)
Mental Illness and Families of Faith (Length: 20:50 minutes)
Understanding Depression (Length: 16:31 minutes)
Overcoming Stigma: Finding Hope (Length: 13:13 minutes)
Addiction and Depression (Length: 16:42 minutes)
Anxiety: Overcoming the Fear (Length: 18:49 minutes)
Teenage Depression and Suicide (Length: 14:39 minutes)
Eating Disorders: Wasting Away (Length: 12:58 minutes)
Creating Caring Congregations (Length: 10:39 minutes)
This 2 DVD set is closed captioned. This resource can be ordered on our website.
Comfort My People is a new resource on mental illness just released by The Presbyterian Church USA. You can download this resource or purchase copies through the Presbyterian Distribution Service (PDS) at http://www.pcusa.org/pcnews/2009/09726.htm. Additional Copies are available at $4.00 each from the Presbyterian Distribution Service (PDS), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202-1396, or by calling 1-800-524-2612. The PDS order number is #02-052-09-003
I have written a four session discussion/resource guide for clergy and communities of faith in response to the many questions and requests for information that I receive from persons want to include spirituality as an important part of the treatment and recovery process. This will be a free resource that can be downloaded on the Mental Health Ministries website. The four sections include, Understanding Mental Illness, The Unique Role of Faith Communities, Creating Caring Congregations and Help for Faith Leaders.
A preview of the Table of Contents will provide a more detailed description of the topics this resource will cover.
I’ve always loved the story of Noah’s ark. I even have a little wooden ark in my office. Noah’s ark is, after all, the story of God’s grace and the promise of God’s covenant with us. Each of us enters the ark in faith that God will see us through the storms, winds and floods of our lives. And while we are on the ark, we are aware of the delicate balance and interdependence that exists between all living things, as well as with the created world. The inhabitants of Noah’s ark might well have become discouraged if they had not had one another to depend on. Through the difficult times in my life, I’ve had to learn how to hang on to others, and to God, in trust and faith.
As we ride through the flood of sorrow or loneliness or discouragement, often we feel abandoned or forgotten by God. But we stick together in the hope that one day we will open a window of our ark and send out a dove. The dove will return with a single leaf...a sign of hope and promise for us all.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119