The New Year is a time of new beginnings. It is the intersection of what has been and the not yet. It is the intersection of the sacred and the secular, the spiritual and the material. We have the opportunity to look back at what has happened in 2010 and what hopes and dreams we have for 2011.
I see an abundance of hope! Mental Health Ministries was founded in 2001. It was mighty lonely trying to live out our mission of creating caring congregations for persons with a mental illness and their families. In 2010, I have witnessed God’s work as more and more individuals and groups are using their gifts and perspectives to recognize the important role of faith and spirituality for those of us that live with a mental illness.
Mental Health Ministries will continue to create and lift up the work of others in the area of spirituality and mental health. Some exciting training modules will be available soon. Three modules will be posted on the Pathways to Promise website, http://www.pathways2promise.org, and four modules will be available on the NAMI FaithNet site, http://www.nami.org/faithnet. I will inform you when these modules are available and I hope you will continue to share with me your ministries so that Mental Health Ministries can share them with others.
As an ordained minister and a person who lives with a mental illness, I am often asked why it is so difficult for many spiritual leaders to talk openly about mental illness. I have attempted to put some of my thoughts on this in an article, Why Clergy and Spiritual Leaders May be Reluctant to Address Mental Health Issues. My reflections are intended as the beginning of a dialogue. I welcome others who may have ideas on this subject and my hope is that these observations may be helpful to those persons who are finding it difficult to engage their faith leaders in a mental health ministry.
Women and men have answered the call to ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church, and have further answered the call to serve as military chaplains, to care as shepherds for military personnel in sometimes very difficult places. An article, Military Chaplains Ask if Church Cares, written by, Rev. Randolph Cross, shares some insights and is available at http://www.umc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=5259669&ct=8855017
Glen Milstein, PhD is a tenured Assistant Professor of Psychology at the City College of New York, and an adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. His bilingual research seeks to improve the continuity of mental health care through a model of Clergy Outreach and Professional Engagement (COPE). He has studied clergy, clinicians, consumers and caregivers, as well as interventions to reduce stigma. He is a licensed Clinical Psychologist.
A list of some of his publications is available at
Clergy Outreach and Professional Engagement (C.O.P.E.)
Clergy and Psychiatrists: Opportunities for Expert Dialogue
Rev. Gary Nelson, pastor of San Hill United Methodist Church in Boaz, West Virginia, is a pastoral counselor, pastor, author and nationally known speaker on teen depression. He utilizes his over 30 years of professional experience working with teens and families, along with his own experience as a father of a depressed teen to approach the topic with a unique perspective. His video, Teens Surviving the Storm, that can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hSpxC_G24. Gary also has written a book, A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression. For more information visit, www.survivingteendepression.com.
The Church of the Brethren has a very helpful wellness guide available as a free downloadable resource. While it addresses whole person wellness and not just mental health, much of what is presented certainly relates to mental health. You can download this resource by visiting the Church of the Brethren Health and Disabilities website at www.brethren.org/wellness.
Pauline Doty’s new book, Echoes of Mercy, Whispers of Love: My Journey and a Theology of Hope, is her explanation of how she overcame great personal suffering and how her struggles led her to a theology of hope.
Pauline’s ecumenical and interfaith ministry as chaplain and advocate has been in hospitals, homes, homeless shelters, churches and in the community. She works with individuals and families who seek understanding, healing, and recovery and has led support groups in churches and for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). For more information on Pauline’s book, go to
Rev. Laura L. Mancuso co-authored an article with Lori Ashcraft and Bill Anthony. It was published in two parts in Behavioral Healthcare (www.behavioral.net). The audience is behavioral health program administrators. The article is posted on scribd and can be viewed at http://www.scribd.com/doc/40868130.
Rev. Laura L. Mancuso, MS, CRC, is a psychiatric rehabilitation counselor, interfaith minister, and spiritual counselor based in Goleta, California, and can be reached at email@example.com. We featured Rev. Mancuso’s article, Revealing the Spiritual Wisdom of People with Mental Illness in the last issue of our e-Spotlight. http://www.scribd.com/doc/35989853/Revealing-the-Spiritual-Wisdom-of-People-With-Mental-Illnesses
WellSpring Mental Health Ministries offers a quarterly e-newsletter which provides inspirational and educational resources for clergy, lay leaders, and other people of faith who care about the intersection of the Christian faith with mental and emotional wellness. WellSpring offers personal reflections drawn from the living streams of the Bible, but also highlights education and awareness resources for mental health ministry that nurtures spiritual and mental wellness in our congregations.
Founder and editor, Carole J. Wills, holds a Master of Arts in Religion and draws from ten years of mental health training and volunteer service through NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In 2001 she began working as a freelance mental health resource consultant for the Alban Institute’s Congregational Resources micro-site (go to www.congregationalresources.org/mentalhealth.asp). WellSpring Mental Health Ministries also offers seminars, Stephen Minister trainings and consulting tailored to your congregation's needs and interests. Simply write firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the e-newsletter or request more information.
“The water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Jesus
It is not too early to think about small group study groups. In the Shadow of God’s Wings: Grace in the Midst of Depression is a four week study. A Group Study Guide is available for group leaders. These books are available on the Mental Health Ministries website.
The new resource/study guide, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond, is available in English and Spanish. It can also be used as a four week study and is available as a free, downloadable resource on the Mental Health Ministries Home page.
There are also a number of DVD’s available for use in a class or small group. Each video resource includes a study guide. Short clips from most shows can be viewed on You Tube by clicking on the video links. Eight shows are available on the two DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith.
A Sign of Compassion
A student asked anthropologist Margaret Mead for the earliest sign of civilization in a given culture. He expected the answer to be a clay pot or perhaps a fish hook or grinding stone. Her answer was, “A healed femur.”
Mead explained that no mended bones are found where the law of the jungle, the survival of the fittest, reigns. A healed femur shows that someone cares. Someone had to do that injured person’s hunting and gathering until the leg healed. The evidence of compassion is the first sign of civilization. When our congregations are educated about mental illness, care and compassion replace stigma and fear.
Wishing you a blessed and joyous New Year!
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119