Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight - Fall 2011

September is Recovery Month

Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 2-8

National Day of Prayer is Tuesday, October 4

National Depression Screening Day is October 6


In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). 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.

To help you get started in a new bulletin insert/article, Mental Illness Awareness Week, that gives ideas for congregations. When printed back to back and cut in half, this double sided resource can be used as a bulletin insert or a small flyer. It is available on the Home page or by clicking here.


The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, October 5. 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.

There is also a fact sheet, What You Need to Know About Mental Illness, including facts that involve our faith communities.


National Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of treatment for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible. It spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.

This year’s theme, “Recovery Benefits Everyone,” highlights the positive effects of recovery beyond addicted individuals. The observance is an ideal opportunity to introduce or provide educational events and resources in your local congregation. A free downloadable toolkit is available from SAMHSA at Download a sample worship service from the United Methodist Church by clicking here.

Mental Health Ministries has a video show, Addiction and Depression. It shares how
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. The full show is available on the Mental Health Ministries as a VHS tape and as one of the shows on our DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond.

This short clip is from our DVD, Mental Health Mission Moments DVD with study guide and it is also on the Home page for Mental Health Ministries.


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 6th, 2011. Held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October, NDSD raises awareness and screens people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. NDSD is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that provides referral information for treatment. More than half a million people each year have been screened for depression since 1991.

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.

You can 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.


Approximately 19 million Americans experience depression. We have included the Zung Self Rating Depression Scale on the Home page of our website. 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


NAMI FaithNet Advisory CommitteeThe NAMI national convention held in Chicago, July 6-9, 2011. It was also a time of fellowship and networking with persons with a shared passion for helping to educate our faith communities about mental illness so they become caring congregations for persons living with a mental illness and their families. The new NAMI FaithNet training modules were introduced at one of the workshops. Reaching Out to Faith Communities is in Microsoft PowerPoint format and may be used either as a self-study tool or as a group study project. It is available, along with other tools and resources, on the NAMI FaithNet website.

The Four Parts of Reaching out to Faith Communities

Laying the Foundation: provides basic information about NAMI FaithNet, its interfaith dialogue approach and religious diversity. This section also explains the value of outreach to faith groups and the community impact of untreated mental illness.

Opening the Door: explores the impact of mental illness on individuals and what basic spiritual care encompasses. Suggestions are offered for starting informal conversations with people of faith and ways to build advocacy, awareness and support within a faith community.

Sharing Your Story: provides training for those who want to more effectively tell their story about mental illness and the role of NAMI and the faith community in the journey toward recovery.

Looking Ahead and Following Up: offers tips on the team approach and how to respond to stigmatizing remarks, differing beliefs and other challenges unique to faith community outreach.

Picture: NAMI FaithNet Advisory Committee – Dr. Gunnar Christiansen, Deacon Tom Lambert, Carole Wills, Susan Christiansen, Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder, Katrina Gay (NAMI staff). Missing is Rev. Craig Rennebohm.


Shadow Voices Shadow Voices: Finding Hope in Mental Illness, a documentary showing how individuals live successfully with a mental illness, is being re-broadcast on NBC-TV stations from June 12- December 12 at the discretion of local NBC affiliates.

The program features former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher, Dr. Joyce Burland of National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Dr. William Anthony of Boston University. Along with these experts, five people tell personal stories of living longterm with depression, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder, cutting and burning, and multiple addictions. My husband, Stan, and I shared our stories in this documentary. The program also looks at the history of treatment of mental illness in the U.S. and how faith community can help.

In 2006 Shadow Voices was broadcast on ABC-TV stations and later on Odyssey Network; it received a VOICE media award from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, an honorable mention in the Columbus (Ohio) International Film festival. Public service radio spots produced from of the documentary are currently airing on dozens of radio stations and received Gracie and Gabriel Awards.

The hour-long program was produced by Third Way Media on behalf of Mennonite churches. For more information go to; see longer News Releases and a list of stations airing the program at the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission website under whose arrangement the program will appear on NBC-TV. A DVD of this documentary is also available. To see this program air on your local affiliate, please call a local NBC station and ask for the program manager.


The second national Conference jointly hosted by the United Church of Christ Disabilities Ministries (UCC DM) and the United Church of Christ Mental Illness Network (UCC MIN) will be held Thursday, September 29 - Saturday, October 1, 2011 - Columbus, OH. More information can be found at


A new study by Baylor University psychologists concludes that “Mental illness of a family member destroys the family’s connection with the religious community…, leading many affected families to leave the church and their faith behind.”

“The data give the impression that mental illness, while prevalent within a congregation, is also nearly invisible,” said study co-author Dr. Matthew Stanford, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor and an expert in mental illness and the church. "Mental illness is not only prevalent in church communities, but is accompanied by significant distress that often goes unnoticed,” said Dr. Diana Garland, another of the study’s co-authors and dean of Baylor's School of Social Work.


Mental Illness and Families of Faith Study GuideThe resource/study guide, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond, is available in English and Spanish. It is available as a free, downloadable resource on the Mental Health Ministries Home page.


FacebookYou are invited to visit Mental Health Ministries on Facebook. I hope you will “Like” our new site.
Mental Health Ministries in now on Facebook.


I have had the opportunity to speak with several groups of faith leaders and mental health community providers. I’ve often ended my talks with a Franciscan benediction I found some years ago. In response to many requests, I share it with you that we might all be encouraged to make a difference in the lives of persons living with mental illness and the people who love them.

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless you with DISCOMFORT…
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with ANGER…
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with TEARS…
To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And to turn their pain into JOY.

And may God bless you with enough FOOLISHNESS…
To believe that you can make a difference in this world.


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