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 erase the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities.
Resources on the Mental Health Ministries Home page include:
NAMI FaithNet has put together a toolkit of resources available at www.nami.org/miaw.
The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, October 8, 2013. 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. 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.
Screening for Mental Health offers National Depression Screening Day programs for the military, colleges and universities, community-based organizations and businesses. Held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October, National Depression Screening Day (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. Through the program, more than half a million people each year have been screened for depression since 1991. For more information visit the NDSD website.
Understanding Depression was produced by Mental Health Ministries.
Over 20 million adults in the U.S., many of them persons of faith, suffer from depression. The video's true stories share the hope of recovery and counters the stigma induced shame, myth and misinformation that keep up to one-half of depressed people from seeking treatment. It also highlights the role people of faith can play in ministering to the needs of depressed people. A short clip from the longer show is available on the Mental Health Ministries YouTube channel. The full length show is available as a VHS tape or on our two DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond.
Mental Health Ministries has just released a video, Suicide: Healing After the Death of a Loved One. This show features an inspirational couple who lost their son to suicide. They share the story of how their faith community supported them and how they have used their painful experience to reach out to others.
More than 36,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year. It is this country's 10th leading cause of death, and is often characterized as a response to a single event or set of circumstances. However, unlike these popular conceptions, suicide is a much more involved phenomenon. The factors that contribute to any particular suicide are diverse and complex, so our efforts to understand it must incorporate many approaches. Faith communities need to talk openly about suicide and provide education about mental illness being a treatable illness instead of a moral or spiritual shortcoming. The brochure, How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Promote Healing is available as a free download on our website.
An anonymous depression screening tool is available at www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org
Another self rating tool is available on the Mental Health Ministries website.
The Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale is a short self-administered survey to quantify the depressed status of a patient. There are 20 items on the scale that rate the four common characteristics of depression: the persuasive effect, the physiological equivalents, other disturbances, and psychomotor activities. The Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale is available in English and Spanish.
PDF, English | PDF, Spanish)
The International Bipolar Foundation has added a supplemental chapter to their resource book, Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder, that was first released last year. The new chapter is, “Traveling with Bipolar Disorder.” The book is geared to both the person with bipolar disorder and their caregivers. Each of the chapters is written by an expert in the field. I had the privilege of writing a chapter on spirituality in the Healthy Living section. To receive a PDF copy of this book, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.InternationalBipolarFoundation.org. Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder is now available on Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Healthy-Living-Bipolar-Foundation-ebook/dp/B008BM3PXS
An article written by Robin Flanigan in the July 25th newsletter from bp magazine has an article about the power of belief. Can a personal bent for religiousbelief make therapy more effective? Apparently so, according to researchers at McLean Hospital, a prestigious psychiatric facility in Massachusetts. “Patients who had higher levels of belief in God demonstrated more effects of treatment,” David H. Rosmarin, a McLean psychologist and the study’s lead author, told the New York Times. “They seemed to get more bang for their buck, so to speak.” The full article is available at bp magazine.
An article on the Associated Baptist Press (ABP) website by John Hall addresses clergy depression. Experts say ministers may be especially susceptible to depression but are often hesitant to seek help. Research indicates up to 68 percent of ministers are dealing with symptoms related to depression. Ministers daily help other people through trying situations -- marital strife, financial struggles, addiction issues or a variety of other troubles, noted Katie Swafford, director of the Texas Baptist’s Counselling Services. It’s easy for them to begin taking on the weight of those problems without realizing it. This article is available at ABP News.
Dwight L. Carlson, M.D. has written a clear and practical book rejects the idea that hurting people should be condemned for their pain, and it succeeds in equipping churches to provide more effective care for these people.
Mental illness is a disease like any other. Those dealing with mental illness, whether in their family or with a friend, can be confused or frustrated by a disease that is unpredictable and detrimental. With straight-forward spiritual guidance, this volume is perfect for anyone affected by mental illness. The author, Marcia Lund, uses practical suggestions for encouraging the reader to reconnect spiritually with God. This book can help sufferers resolve issues and find peace.
Due to many requests, the resource/study guide, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond, is now available for purchase in English or Spanish. It can still be downloaded from the website at no cost, but we are also offering it as a spiral bound print resource. Click here to order.
Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond is a tool designed to be used by clergy, members of the congregation, family members and anyone desiring to learn more about mental illness and how to respond with compassion and care. It can also be used as a small group study guide that is divided into four chapters with discussion questions at the end. The third chapter outlines the Caring Congregations five step model.
The four sections included in this resource/study guide include:
Mental Health Mission Moments is an ecumenical resource to help clergy and lay persons or with small groups to address mental health issues in the context of the Sunday morning worship service. These nine 2-3 minute DVD segments can also be used with small groups or classes to generate discussion. Each segment presents an issue related to the experiences of mental health, puts a face to the issue, and ends with a message of hope. The accompanying Resource Guide includes sermon starters, liturgical material, additional scriptural references and other resources to help educate congregations about mental illness.
Because the segments are short and can be used in a variety of settings, this can be an especially helpful resource to use during Mental Illness Awareness Week. You are encouraged to use parts of this material, rearrange it, adapt it to your setting or write your own. One sermon starter is given for each segment, but other scripture references may also be used. Where applicable, texts from the Common Lectionary are noted.
Shortly before his death, Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote Youth and Age, in which he reflected over his past and what had given him strength in his earlier years. One of the most profound lines of his work is the statement, “Friendship is a sheltering tree...” How true this statement is for all of us today. When we face life’s challenges and disappointments, there is nothing like a sheltering tree - a true friend - to give us relief in the cool shade. Beneath the branches of such sheltering trees many discouraged souls have rested.
There are numerous examples of sheltering trees in the Bible. But of all the trees that God provided, the special relationship between David and Jonathan stands out. No matter how hard he tried, Saul could not chop down that tree named Jonathan. There were no limits, no conditions, no bargains and no reservations in this special friendship. When things were at their worst, the book of 1 Samuel reports that Jonathan “Went to David...and encouraged him in God.” (1 Sam.23:16) Jonathan was committed to the basic principles of friendship and “he loved him as he loved himself.”
(1 Sam.18:1) Love was the reason for this special friendship.
Beneath whose branches are you refreshed? And who rests beneath your branches? We can probably name persons who rest beneath our branches, for most of us are more comfortable reaching out to others. But sometimes we too need to rest awhile beneath the shade of another’s branches. Too often, I suspect, we give the impression that we have it all together, and we are afraid of admitting our own vulnerability.
Sheltering trees are a gift from God. I believe God works in and through the relationships we share with others. I wrote this poem for one of my sheltering trees.
I had a glimpse of your love today, O God.
It was in the eyes of my friend
as she shared my tears.
It was in the arms of my friend
as she held me when I cried.
It was in my friend’s being there
in her acceptance of my pain
in her allowing me to let out those feelings.
It was in her loving me.
Surely that was you, Creator God.
Surely it was your eyes,
your arms, your presence, your love.
Just as you revealed your nature
to us all,
So my friend became an expression
of your love to me.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119