When a disaster occurs, the effects are far reaching. The victims, friends and family members, rescue workers, healthcare providers, and, because of the power of the media, even people on the other side of the globe can all feel the effects of a large scale disaster. Our hearts go out to the people of Japan in the aftermath of the tragic events in that country. And the devastation from the tornadoes and flooding in the South will change people’s lives forever. Even the death of bin Laden triggered strong emotional reactions.
Did you know? As many as one in four of the people you encounter may have been deeply wounded by life experiences. Natural disasters, the effects of war and other events can be triggers for persons who have experienced trauma in their lives. These are resources that may be helpful for faith leaders.
Counseling Survivors of Traumatic Events is a practical resource to help faith leaders provide care and counseling to persons dealing with trauma and PTSD issues.
Part I of this book discusses psychological trauma, with particular emphasis on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the role that clergy can play in helping a survivor work through issues associated with it.
Part II is the heart of the book, with sixteen case studies that illustrate the range of situations a pastor or other helping professional could face—including natural disasters, car accidents, suicide, childhood cancer, rape, torture, hate crimes, and so on. For each case study, there is a pastoral care assessment, relevant history, diagnostic criteria, response to vignette, indications for referral, treatment by mental health specialists, cross-cultural issues, resources, and references.
In Part III, the authors provide guidelines on how to respond to different kinds of crisis situations and how to make referrals to other mental health professionals. Guidelines for self-care are also included. A glossary of useful terms completes the book.
The book, published by Abingdon Press, and is available http://www.cokesbury.com/forms/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=440511
The Sidran Institute has published a training curriculum that focuses on the healing role that clergy of all denominations can play in the lives of trauma survivors in their congregation.
Ways faith communities can promote healing
Encourage higher levels of physical self-care for congregants and others with histories of trauma: more rest, healthier food, adequate exercise
Recommend congregants and others limit watching the news over and over again—this increases anxiety
Provide a safe place for persons to share their story and their feelings
Refocus on gratitude for survival, healing, and restoration
Plan a community event using topical studies focusing on resilience instead of trauma
Use sacred space for prayer, meditation and worship
Plan a worship and/or memorial service to pray for the victims of trauma
Find things about which to give thanks and do so
For more information, visit www.riskingconnection.com
The 2011 NAMI national convention will be held in Chicago on July 6-9. The theme for this year’s conference is Building Better Lives. Information and registration forms are available at www.nami.org/convention. There will be several workshops with a focus on spirituality. The workshop, Reaching Out to Faith Communities: Answering Frequently Asked Questions, is scheduled for Friday, July 8, from 3:30 pm-4:45 pm. There will be at the NAMI FaithNet networking session on Thursday, July 7, 3:45pm – 5:15pm. All workshops on mental health and spirituality are listed on the NAMI FaithNet website at www.nami.org/namifaithnet.
Reaching Out to Congregations is a four-part training tool provided by NAMI FaithNet, an educational outreach to faith communities of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The goal of Reaching out to Congregations is to better equip NAMI members and leaders to build bridges with local faith groups. The content was written in response to common questions like Why should we reach out to faith communities? How do we handle differing views of mental illness or stigmatizing remarks? How do I get started?
The long-range goal of NAMI FaithNet outreach is to promote supportive faith communities where awareness, welcome, inclusion, support and spiritual care for individuals and families facing mental illness is provided.
Four Parts of Reaching out to Congregations
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 congregations 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 building advocacy, awareness and support within a congregation.
NAMI FaithNet: 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 their journey.
Looking Ahead & 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
Reaching Out to Faith Communities is offered via PowerPoint and intended for self-study while viewing with the NOTES function. While the four sections are designed to be used consecutively and as a whole, they each can be studied independently. In addition, the material is also presented via a two-part webinar series. Support documents referenced in the curriculum are also included. It is available on the NAMI FaithNet micro-site (www.nami.org/namifaithnet).
In response to these pressing needs, Pathways to Promise and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors have begun to implement a national training and educational initiative. This emerged out of the National Mental Health Summit held in Belleville, IL, sponsored by Pathways to Promise in 2009. Pilot Projects in St. Louis, MO and several communities in Washington State, supported by foundations and by state departments of mental and behavioral health, have just recently completed their first year of implementation.
An NTI site covers a city, county or region. Guiding a local Training Site is a planning group made up of representatives from key and diverse stakeholders—faith groups, consumers and families, community mental health providers and advocates, pastoral counselors, parish nurses, and other community allies. The NTI planning group helps organize neighborhood clusters of congregations and other community partners, who participate in core NTI trainings on mental health and substance use, as well as other trainings identified in the annual curriculum of continuing education. The result is reduced stigma, increased knowledge, and the development of skills in promoting recovery.
The training resources developed for the St. Louis project are now available online at www.pathways2promise.org They are available for individuals within a congregation, or as train-the-trainer resources.
Aaron Cross, a staff writer for the United Methodist Communications wrote an article about Mental Health Ministries. It is currently on the General Board of Higher Education website, www.gbhem.org, and through a direct link, http://www.gbhem.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=lsKSL3POLvF&b=6471015&ct=935699 This article is also available as a link in the Articles section of the Mental Health Ministries website.
Deacon Tom Lambert co-chairs the National Catholic Partnership on Disability’s Council on Mental Illness and is a member of the NAMI FaithNet Advisory Committee. He is quoted in the article, “Church, Society Still Lag in Help, Welcome to Those with Mental Illness.” For other resources to help parish leader to welcome persons with mental illness into their congregations, you can visit NCPD: National Catholic Partnership on Disability's website at http://www.ncpd.org
The NBC documentary, Shadow Voices: Finding Hope in Mental Illness, is being rebroadcast in June through December, 2011, at the discretion of local stations. Topics covered in the documentary include history and deinstitutionalization, media images and stigma, criminal justice system and mental illness, rehabilitation and recovery, health insurance, faith community's involvement, family support and hope. The DVD includes 100 "bonus minutes" that includes interviews with my husband and me on family relations. The Shadow Voices website, www.ShadowVoices.com, also includes more personal stories, a photo gallery and quotes and a more complete study guide.
Shaping Families is a weekly 15-minute interview program focusing on “tough family issues.” It airs on 17 stations across the U.S. It is produced by Third Way Media, a ministry of the Mennonite churches. The Shaping Families radio program featured four shows during May. The programs share stories of persons dealing with depression, schizophrenia, cutting and burning and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The first story, “For Better and Worse,” is an interview with my husband, Stanley Schroeder, and I about the challenge of dealing with a mental illness for couples. Podcasts and other information are available online at www.ShapingFamilies.com and at these URL’s:
For Better and Worse – Susan Gregg-Schroeder and Stanley Schroeder talk about dealing with Susan’s depression in the marriage context. http://www.shapingfamilies.com/2011/5/7/Program/For+Better+and+For+Worse
Artist with Schizophrenia – Jerome Lawrence, whose watercolors have brought up to $20,000 in charity art auctions talks about his art and his illness.
Cutting and Burning – Kari explores why she was compelled to cut and burn her own skin to deal with the pain of depression.
Debbie tells what it is like to live with obsessive-compulsive disorder and how she copes, and how others can be helpful.
Mental Health Ministries has produced ten shows on mental illness. Short clips from these shows are available on the website, You Tube and our Mental Health Mission Moments DVD with study guide.
These are links to some of these video clips.
Interfaith Introduction – Coming Out of the Dark
Creating Caring Congregation
Mental Illness and Families of Faith
Jewish Families of Faith
Teenage Depression and Suicide
Overcoming Stigma Finding Hope
Rev. Barbara Meyers, a Unitarian Universalist pastor, produces a monthly show on mental health issues called “Mental Health Matters.” It is shown on cable television and individual shows can be purchased. All are available online. Congregations have used the programs, augmented with local speakers, for an adult religious education offering focused on mental health. Suggested questions for discussion and resources for further information are found on-line accompanying each show.
The 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.
Summer is a time to take Sabbath time. Hopefully we can step back from our harried lives and find our own way to reconnect with God. I relish those quiet time working in my garden or taking a walk in God’s natural wonderland. I enjoy photography…even though I have much to learn! This website gives me an excuse to share some of those photos with you. So I invite you to visit the Inspiration section of the Mental Health Ministries where you will find devotions, prayers and quotations. They can be used for individual nurture although many people have found them helpful when leading a small group.
You are invited to visit Mental Health Ministries on Facebook. I hope you will “Like” our new site.
Mental Health Ministries in now on Facebook.
The Importance of Self Care
I think of summer as a time of rest, renewal and reflection. There are no major religious holy days. Summer reminds me how we can become so frenzied in our lives that we neglect self care so essential for good mental health.
Faith leaders and other caregivers are especially vulnerable and often neglect self care. With seemingly endless demands on our time and energy, we often neglect all the things we know are good for us like caring for our physical bodies, taking Sabbath time to renew our spirits, spending time with our family and friends, being intellectually stimulated as part of life-long learning and growth, and being aware of our emotional needs and responses.
I had no idea that the choices I was making as a clergy person were impacting my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It took a major wake-up call like my mental illness to force me to look at my life. For those who do not get an abrupt wake-up call, they are often unaware of the imbalance in their lives. And then we wonder why we feel exhausted, stressed and burned out.
One of the occupational outcomes of our actions is due to what Charles Figley has called “compassion fatigue.” We are there for others in times of crisis. I know how difficult it is to begin to decline to attend every function when the others have come to expect it. But it is the responsibility of faith leaders to educate their congregations about the importance of using study leave, being faithful to days off, taking vacations and having regular sabbatical leave for reflection and renewal.
I heard about a minister who loved to fish but never found the time. He bought a boat and named it “Visitation.” When someone called the church asking for the pastor, the secretary could honestly respond, “He is on Visitation.”
May you find ways to refresh your soul this summer.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119