Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight - Spring 2012


We are currently featuring resources on mental illness and older adults on the Home page of the Mental Health Ministries website.

Depression is not a normal part of the aging process. Everyone feels sad or “blue” from time to time. But growing older involves adjusting to life changes that often involve loss: of loved ones, of familiar routines, of physical health. Depression is the most common emotional disorder in older adults, occurring in about one in seven people over 65. The symptoms of clinical depression can be overlooked and untreated when they coincide with other medical illness and life events. It can also be difficult to the difference between normal grief and clinical depression. The handout, Possible Distinctions Between Depressive Grief and Clinical Depression, is featured on the Home page.


A video clip on Mental Illness and Older Adults is available on the Mental Health Ministries website under Resources/Video Clips and on You Tube:


Mental Illness in Older AdultsThe brochure, Mental Illness in Older Adults: An Opportunity for Spiritual Growth, is available on the Home page of the website or under Brochures in the Resource section of the website.

It can also be difficult to the difference between normal grief from loss and clinical depression. The handout, Possible Distinctions Between Depressive Grief and Clinical Depression, is featured on the Home page.

The most significant transition in the aging years is from a life of productivity in goods and services to a life valued for itself. This transitional shift invites us into the gift of aging.
~ James W. Ewing, Ph. D.


Embracing AgingEmbracing Aging is a 58 minute documentary produced by MennoMedia. Families, experts and "wise ones" share insights on aging, housing choices, facing illness, and cooperating as siblings in the care of aging parents. Residents of a cohousing community for those over 55 offer attractive alternatives for the aging years. The DVD is available for sale and includes bonus content on finances, driving, assessing needs, choosing housing, cohousing and the role of the church. More information on this resource is available at


We have made some website changes to help you better access the wide variety of Mental Health Ministries resources. Check out our new website changes including combining the Resources section, adding our Video Clips and a Models of Ministry section.

We have gathered all the Mental Health Resources under the Resources section of the website. The contents of this page include Study Guide, Video Clips, DVDs, Books, Worship Resources, Bulletin Inserts, Brochures, Handouts/Flyers, Articles/Misc., and Links.

A new section for easier access to our video clips is now available under the Resources section. We currently offer twelve video clips on You Tube. Now you can quickly find a video clip on a particular subject.

Interfaith Intro
Coming Out of the Dark Intro
Teenage Depression and Suicide
Overcoming Stigma Finding Hope
Understanding Depression
Addiction and Depression
Creating Caring Congregations
Mental Illness and Families of Faith
Jewish Families of Faith
Out of the Ashes: Transforming Trauma
Mental Illness and Older Adults
Gifts of the Shadow

When Mental Health Ministries started in 2001, there was not much interest in working to help erase the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities. Since then there is increasing awareness of the important role of faith and spirituality in the treatment and recovery process. There is the recognition that faith communities are in a unique position to be caring congregations for persons living with a mental illness and those who love them. When faith leaders and faith communities are educated about mental illness, they can be an important part of a support community by forming collaborative relationships with local mental health providers, advocacy groups and other community partners.

We can learn from each other. The Models of Ministry page is a way for faith communities to share what they are doing…what has worked and what the challenges have been. How did your ministry get started? Where did you find the support and encouragement to move forward? What resources did you find helpful? Each congregation is unique and will create ministries appropriate to the needs of their community.

The Models of Ministry section includes, 1) the Caring Congregations Model, 2) Getting Started, 3) What Congregations Are Doing and 4) Faith Group Resources.

Models of Ministry To share what is happening in your congregation, faith group or community to erase the stigma of mental illness and provide caring and compassionate support for persons affected by mental illness, contact Mental Health Ministries through the website or send your ideas by emailing Susan.


LA Times ArticleOne in five adults in the U.S. had a mental illness in 2010, with people ages 18 to 25 having the highest rates, according to a national survey recently published by the Los Angeles Times. This report is from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, includes information from 68,487 completed surveys about mental illness (as defined by the American Psychiatric Assn.'s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV) and substance abuse among adults and children. Mental illness struck 20% of Americans in 2010; 8.7 million people had thoughts of suicide. Rates have remained fairly stable since 2009, with only a slight uptick in overall numbers.,0,6619243.story


Mental Health Matters VideoFebruary is national Black History Month. Rev. Barbara Myers, a community minister at Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, produces a monthly public access television show ‘Mental Health Matters – Alameda County”, a program that explores mental health issues. In a new show on African American Spirituality, Barbara chats with guests Gigi Crowder and Pastor Horacio Jones about a specialized training called "A Bridge Over Troubled Waters" in Alameda County aimed at educating and encouraging a much needed collaboration between spiritual leaders and mental health providers. Learn how mental health and spirituality interact in the African American community and the importance of cultural responsiveness. You can watch this show at


Culture and religion play an important role in the use and delivery of mental health care services. There is mounting evidence that many members of Latino, Black, Asian and Muslim groups seek assistance from faith-based organizations for emotional and psychiatric problems. In many cases, comfort and counsel provided by clergy are enough to help them through an emotional crisis. However, sometimes, emotional problems require another source of help.

The Center of Excellence in Culturally Competent Mental Health has developed a guide for faith leaders, The Pastoral Education Guide: Responding to the Mental Health Care Needs of Multicultural Faith Communities and an accompanying Workbook. Vignettes are used to illustrate problems encountered and solved by pastoral counselors in the Latino, Black, Korean, Jewish, and Muslim faith communities. The publications promote clergy-clinician collaboration by providing the tools for and examples of clergy serving as liaison with professional mental health care providers. Both the Guide and the Workbook address the stigma of having a mental illness among cultural groups in faith based communities by adapting the work of the Mental Health Ministries in promoting recovery from mental illness through accommodating and supporting members who are receiving care.

The guide and accompanying workbook were developed by Glen Milstein, PhD and Terry Dugan, MA, and are available to download on the Nathan Kline Institute (NKI) Center of Excellence in Culturally Competent Mental Health website at:


bp MagazineResearch done by Nassir Ghaemi, MD, a psychiatrist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston (and a member of our advisory board), and others has found that people who have bipolar disorder also tend to have “certain specific psychological characteristics … that are generally viewed as valuable and beneficial morally or socially.” Namely: spirituality, empathy, creativity, realism, and resilience.

One of the persons interviewed in the article, Dr. Beth Allen, said, “When she can’t feel any hope during a depressive episode, faith reassures her that the dark period will eventually end.”
You can read this article by Elizabeth Forbes in the winter issue of BP magazine at:


Recovery Connection is a website designed to providing addicts, alcoholics, and their loved ones with answers to addiction and treatment questions, and in locating an alcohol and drug treatment center. They have created a guide, “Choosing a Quality Christian Alcohol and Drug Rehab, “designed to help to help members of the Christian community. More information about the guide, as well as the link to download it in PDF form, can be found at the link below:


Pathways to Promise is enhancing its website with ready access to three new training resources: Mental Health 101, an introduction to mental health ministry for clergy, pastoral staff and congregational leaders, Organizing a Congregational Mental Health Team, a training aimed at equipping lay leaders to foster mental health ministry and Companionship, a training for laity offering five basic practices for sharing the recovery journey with individuals and families facing serious mental health issues.

Also on the website is a Mental Health Ministry Toolkit that offers suggestions for specific caring congregation activities in the areas of children's mental health, trauma, mental illness, substance use disorders and mental health issues of aging. Pathways is committed to working through its national faith group partners, local faith groups and networks of neighboring networks of congregations to build the capacity of the faith community for mental health ministry.

As part of its National Training Initiative, Pathways will be convening a diverse advisory committee, and adding staff to carry out its resource, consultation, training, advocacy and communication efforts. Building on the creative work of Jenifer Shifrin and Bob Dell, Craig Rennebohm will serve as the staff lead and Executive Director of Pathways. Bob Skrocki will serve as President of the Board as Pathways proceeds with an "ever emerging ministry," supportive of recovery and well being. Visit the Pathways to Promise website at


Bridges of Hope is a new resource designed by NAMI FaithNet Advisory Committee members to give NAMI members a user friendly, scripted PowerPoint presentation to use when speaking to faith communities. The Reaching Out to Faith Communities training tool was previewed at the NAMI national convention in Chicago this past summer. The Reaching Out resource is designed to give background information and useful tools in preparations for reaching out to faith communities. Once persons have the information, tools and confidence, they can use Bridges of Hope to educate and empower faith communities on the importance of talking about mental illness to create caring congregations for persons living with a mental illness and their families.

Three topics are addressed including: What is mental illness and what is its impact?; What role can faith communities play in supporting and caring for people with mental illness?; and Who is NAMI and what does it offer faith communities? Length of the presentation depends on the speaker’s pace and amount of discussion encouraged. It can be used in its entirety or in sections, depending on the audience’s familiarity with the subject matter and time allotment. Both Reaching Out to Faith Communities and Bridges of Hope are available to be downloaded from the NAMI FaithNet micro-site at


NAMI FaithNet will be offering workshops at NAMI national convention in Seattle, WA, Wednesday, June 27-Saturday, June 30, 2012. The theme is Think Learn Live: Wellness, Resiliency and Recovery. There will be workshops available from NAMI FaithNet. For registration details, go to:


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.


The Valley of Dry BonesThe Valley of Dry Bones
Last fall I had the privilege of viewing an art print exhibition of The Saint John’s Bible. It is a most beautiful hand-written hand-illuminated that the Smithsonian Magazine described as, “One of the most extraordinary undertakings of our time.” It truly is a feast for the eyes, the mind and the heart.

The Bible is also rich in symbolism that is both traditional and contemporary. I was especially moved by the depiction of the valley of dry bones from the prophet Ezekiel. The montage reflecting the dry bones looks like a contemporary heap that images a spiritually dead society. It recalls real human suffering in recent past with skulls based on photos taken of genocide and wars in Armenia, Rwanda, Iraq and Bosnia. There is broken glass that suggests broken windows caused by car bombs and terrorist attaches. At the center is a pile of eyeglasses, a well-known image of the Holocaust. There is even a trashed automobile.

Contrasting the heaps of death, destruction and spiritual deadness is a rainbow across the top of the page. It foreshadows Ezekiel’s vision of the temple and is even punctuated with seven menorahs as a sign of the covenant between God and the people of The Saint John’s Bible.

Gold is used throughout the Bible to symbolize God’s presence. Even in the valley of the dry bones there are small glimpses of gold to symbolize God’s promise even in the midst of our darkest times. Having spent time in the valley of dry bones, I find the assurance and hope in God’s promise to breathe new life and light in the midst of our suffering.


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