One of the marks of the New Year is making resolutions. High on the list of resolutions is the desire to improve health. Over 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese so it is not surprising to find that weight loss is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions. People buy exercise equipment and join gyms. Many of those exercise machines end up in garage sales or on eBay. After a few months of good intentions, gym attendance often lapses.
But approximately ten million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder. Many medications used to treat mental illness can also cause weight gain. Eating disorders can lead to severe medical complications, depression, isolation and substance abuse. If left untreated, eating disorders can even be fatal.
Mental Health Ministries has added a video to our website, Wasting Away: Eating Disorders. More than 90% of those who have an eating disorder are women between the ages of 12 and 25 although we are seeing an increase in eating disorders.
In our video two families share their struggles in dealing with eating disorders. You can view this resource on the Mental Health Ministries Home page or at http://youtu.be/q5ud-5QSfls
The Mayo Clinic released a study about eating disorders and persons with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder appears to take a different path among patients who binge eat than it does in patients with bipolar who are obese but do not binge eat, according to a study published online in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
Close to 10 percent of Americans with bipolar have some form of binge eating disorder. Within that group, suicidal thoughts, psychosis, anxiety disorders and substance abuse are more likely. It was more common for women than men with bipolar disorder to binge eat or to be obese, the study showed. The article is available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2013-rst/7588.html
Interfaith Network on Mental Illness has a document to help faith communities start a support group based on the pioneering work done by the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Boulder, Colorado. It is available at
After the White House Conference on Mental Health last June, the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness (INMI) proposed to develop an on-line directory for all organizations that are working on the intersection between faith/spirituality and mental health. You are invited to go to the directory and register your faith community or organization at www.inmi.us/fwconn. For questions you can contact Joanne Kelly at email@example.com.
With the busy holiday season behind us, many congregations and collaborative groups are looking ahead to planning a workshop or conference to address spirituality/faith and mental illness. We know that education is the first step in desigmatizing mental illness. Mental Health Ministries offers a handout to help your planning committee begin to think about planning an event appropriate to your needs. It is helpful to see what other groups are doing and two upcoming conferences are included in this Spotlight. There are some basic ideas and a suggested schedule for a half day or full day conference on our website.
Pathways to Promise will host a one day conference on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. For more information on this conference, “Creating Hope: The Power of Faith Communities in Mental Health Recovery,” visit the Pathways to Promise website at www.Pathways2Promise.org.
A Walking Together Conference will be held in Houston, Texas, February 6-8, 2014. The focus of the conference is, “Christian Communities & Faithful Response to Mental Illness.” Over three days in February, the Walking Together conference will convene nationally recognized scholars and local community leaders to explore these questions. For more information go to: http://www.reimagininglifetogether.org/event/walking-together-conference/
The Journal of Muslim Mental Health has announced that it now provides free access online to full text content. Go to website: http://www.journalofmuslimmentalhealth.org.
The current issue (Vol. 7, Issue 2) focuses on stigma experienced by Muslims. The following are article titles in this issue: Mental Health Stigma in the Muslim Community; Attitudes Toward Muslim Americans Post-9/11; Mental Health Help-Seeking Behaviors of Muslim Immigrants in the United States; and American Muslim College Students: The Impact of Religiousness and Stigma on Active Coping.
The Congregational Accessibility Network from the Anabaptist Disabilities Network has developed a survey that asks about various kinds of supports for persons living with disabilities, including mental health. You can find that section of the survey at http://www.accessibilitynetwork.net/Survey/Survey_Overview/Support
We can learn from each other. The Models of Ministry page on the Mental Health Ministries website 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.
There are many exciting and creative ministries out there! Seeds are being planted and many are flourishing in surprising ways. Because it is an ever evolving and changing landscape, staffing and funding cutbacks impact outreach programs. Therefore, it is not possible to keep a current list of active ministries. Instead my hope is that the models shared may be a springboard to provide ideas and encouragement to begin or expand a mental health ministry in your own garden.
You are invited and encouraged 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. You can contact Mental Health Ministries through the website or by e-mailing Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We encourage you to “Like” us on our Facebook page to get timely updates on resources, articles, and ideas of what other people are doing. We also encourage your comments and contributions.
The New Year is time to reflect on our lives. The busy holidays are over but the reality is that most of us live very hectic, busy lives throughout the year. We often use the expression, "I'm juggling too many balls," or "I can't keep all the balls in the air."
As the New Year begins, I invite you to imagine that the most important parts of your life are beautiful, fragile crystal balls. Naming the crystal balls will be different for each of us. For many of us our crystal balls will include such things as our faith, our true self, our family, our friends, our passions, our hobbies, and maybe even aspects of our work.
Now imagine that all the other balls we struggle to keep in the air are rubber balls. As we juggle all these balls, it is all right if the rubber balls drop now and then. They will bounce back. But if we drop one of the precious crystal balls, it will shatter... and be lost forever.
Treasure and care for the crystal balls in your life.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119