Summer is upon us…a time to recharge and renew our spirits. Mental Health America has recently launched the Live Your Life Well campaign to help all of us deal with these stressful times. One of the suggestions is to take care of your spirit. “People who have strong spiritual lives may be healthier and live longer. Spirituality seems to cut the stress that can contribute to disease.” A new downloadable bulletin insert/flyer, Mental Health in Challenging Times, includes these steps and is available on the Mental Health Ministries Home page.
The NAMI National Convention will be held in San Francisco, July 6-9. The theme for this year’s conference is “Creating a Healthy Future or Us All.” NAMI FaithNet will be sponsoring a Special Interest Workshop. I am honored to be part of the FaithNet Advisory Committee, and we will be sharing the exciting ways that FaithNet has emerged as a popular website link for persons interesting in including the faith dimension when dealing with a mental illness. A number of persons will share about their outreach ministries. This workshop will be on Tuesday, July 7, 9:00 a.m. to noon and local faith leaders may attend this workshop without registering for the conference.
There will also be a workshop, “Hard Questions on Faith and Mental Illness: A Multi-faith Panel Responds.” A mental illness often results in persons of faith asking the difficult questions like where God is when we are suffering. I will be part of a panel of leaders from different faith traditions, and we will respond to the “hard questions” about faith and mental illness. This workshop will be presented from 4:00 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, July 8. You can subscribe to the NAMI FaithNet e-newsletter at http://www.nami.org/faithnet.
Companions on the Road to Recovery from Mental Illness – Pathways for the 21st Century is a national summit sponsored by the interfaith group, Pathways to Promise, to be held on September 29, 30 and October 1, 2009 in Belleville, IL. It is designed to equip congregations and clergy for effective ministry with individuals and families facing serious mental health issues in their lives. The focus of the workshops and breakout sessions is to present a vision on ongoing training and collaboration. There will be national speakers including Mike Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Rev. Doug Ronsheim, Executive Director of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), and faith leaders nationally who working in this area. I look forward to meeting and dialoguing with many of these people in person.
There is a brochure listing the many speakers along with registration information available on the Mental Health Ministries website under Upcoming Conferences. You can also go to Pathways website, www.Pathways2Promise.org, for further information.
Our new DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond, has been very popular. Eight of our media programs are featured. Each segment has a discussion guide with background information, questions for discussion and where to find additional resources. Each segment presents an issue related to the experience of mental illness, puts a face to the issue and offers a message of hope.
The shows included in this set include Coming Out of the Dark, Mental Illness in Different Age Groups, Mental Illness and Families of Faith, Understanding Depression, Overcoming Stigma: Finding Hope, Addiction and Depression, Anxiety: Overcoming the Fear, Teenage Depression and Suicide, Eating Disorders: Wasting Away and Creating Caring Congregations.
The price is $49.95 with $6.00 shipping. It can be ordered on our website or you can write a check to Mental Health Ministries and send it to the address below. Since we are phasing out our resources, the have been marked down to $10 while supplies last. Ordering on line will reflect the sale price. The price on our three DVDs, Creating Caring Congregations, Mental Health Mission Moments and Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression and Families of Faith, has been reduced to $19.95. For quantity orders of any of our DVD or VHS resources, contact Susan for a reduced rate.
The American Women in Radio and Television have announced they’re awarding the Unsung: Family Voices on Mental Illness radio spots a Gracie Award for Outstanding Public Service Announcement/Campaign. The award will be presented at a ceremony June 3, 2009 in New York City with other invited honorees including Jane Pauley, Maya Angelou, Barbara Walters, Dr. Phil and many others. The radio spots from Mennonite Media include a number of interviewees featured in the Shadow Voices: Finding Hope in Mental Illness TV documentary including Rosalynn Carter, Dr. Joyce Burland of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Susan Gregg-Schroeder, Stan Schroeder, Kari Broadway and Claudia Slate. You can hear the spots or read scripts here: www.thirdway.com/rad and look for “Unsung: Family Voices on Mental Illness”
You can subscribe to their e-newsletter at http://www.nami.org/faithnet. I encourage you to register to receive FaithNet e-mail updates and to visit the site for information and resources on ways to educate about mental illness in our faith communities. Registration information for the July conference is available at www.nami.org. New NAMI FaithNet brochures are available in the NAMI store. 50 brochures cost $6.
A Seed is a Promise
A simple seed holds incredible power. All that is necessary for new life is contained in a seed. A small article, tucked away in the pages of a newspaper, caught my eye. It told of some seeds shed by an East Indian lotus plant that were found in a food storage area in an ancient lake deposit in southern Manchuria. The seeds successfully germinated some 450 years after they had been placed in storage.
Planting a seed is an act of faith. Most all ministries to and with persons living with a mental illness and their families begin as seeds. We do not know which seeds will germinate in the fertile darkness of the soil. We do not know who will come along to water and tend to this new life. We do not know what form our mental health outreach will take as it continues to grow and flower.
God also plants seeds in each of us. When I was in my deepest depression, I could only experience the darkness of despair. Yet, even though I felt alone and abandoned in my pain, God was planting seeds of hope, new life and new beginnings in my soul. I thank God for the faithful family members, friends and mental health professionals who continued to water those seeds until the first sprouts broke through the black soil into the fullness of light.
Each of us can plant and nourish the seeds of ministries to help erase the stigma of mental illness. Each of us can be with persons who have lost their way in the darkness because we know that each seed holds the promise and potential to bring forth new life.
Take Sabbath time this summer and take some time to plant seeds.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119