We look forward to summer. It is a time to recharge, refresh, renew and reconnect. We are looking forward to a Schroeder family reunion in Flagstaff, AZ, in June. It is a wonderful time for the younger ones to get to know their cousins. Stan and I also have a trip planned to Alaska with long-time friends.
Summer is often a slower time for our faith communities with no major Holy days. Recent studies reveal that the unique demands on clergy including the job stress of trying to meet so many people’s needs and expectations, take a toll on the mental health of our faith leaders. Our faith leaders also need time to renew their spirits. Congregations can help by being supportive of clergy taking Sabbath time to renew their spirits and nourish their souls. Parishioners can volunteer to help in the congregation in a variety of ways and maybe try something new that may also prove to be fun and renewing.
This e-Spotlight includes a variety of links to articles, websites, books and other resources. I also invite you to visit our Inspiration section on the website if you need a devotion, prayer or quotation for personal use, to share with a group or to include in a worship bulletin.
Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, founders of the 22,000-member Saddleback Church in Orange County, lost their 27-year-old son Matthew to suicide a year ago. After several months in retreat, they emerged to preach about the power of faith and prayer in helping them deal with their devastation. On March 28, they launched a massive, church-based campaign against mental illness in America, pegged to the anniversary of their family tragedy. Pastor Rick and Kay Warren, Bishop Vann, NAMI-OC (National Alliance on Mental Illness-Orange County), and other faith and community leaders convened for a hope-filled and inspiring event, Mental Health and the Church. Together they called the Church to action on behalf of those living with mental illness, to equip lay and pastoral leadership, and to stand side-by-side with those who suffer.
Over 10,000 individuals who were not able to attend in person watched the plenary sessions and some of the workshops that were streamed. You can download the comprehensive conference notebook and watch the plenary sessions and workshops at http://mentalhealthandthechurch.com/
Faith Partners has released a new, updated set of resources in its Congregational Readiness Toolkit. This is the first step to starting a Faith Partners Team.
Find out if your congregation could benefit from a congregational team that helps individuals and families with prevention, early intervention, referral assistance, recovery support, and advocacy related to alcohol and other drug problems. Use this step-by-step guide to educate your leadership, stimulate volunteer interest, evaluate your opportunity, and start to initiate this proven ministry or service in your congregation.
Each Congregational Readiness Toolkit includes:
Order your Congregational Readiness Toolkit today for only $50 plus shipping and handling.
On June 3, 2013, President Obama convened a national conference on mental health at the White House. Various groups and organizations have been developing resources to educate about mental illness including outreach to faith communities.
SAMHSA has released a new resource, Talking Points for Faith-Based Communities. Increasing awareness of mental health issues and making it easier for people to seek help will take partners working together. Faith and community leaders can play a significant role in helping to educate individuals and families about mental health. These talking points can help faith leaders develop messages for their congregations and communities about the importance of mental health. This resource is available at no cost. Click here to download.
SAMHSA also offers a Faith-Based Organizations Fact Sheet. Faith and community leaders can play a significant role in helping to educate individuals and families about mental health. This fact sheet can help communities and congregations raise awareness about mental health issues and emphasize the importance of people to seek help when needed. This fact sheet can be used as a bulletin insert or announcement to faith communities about the importance of mental health issues in our communities. Click here to download this resource.
Dr. Nancy C Kehoe, RSCJ, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a nun in the Society of the Sacred Heart, a distinguished clinician and author of Wrestling with our Inner Angels: Faith, Mental Illness and the Journey to Wholeness. She has produced three excellent five-minute You Tube Conversations on Religion and Mental Illness. They will increase your understanding about the crucial role religion plays in recovery and building awareness.
Rev. Barbara Meyers changed her profession from a computer software engineer to an ordained minister. Recovering from a serious bout of postpartum depression, she learned how to live a more balanced life. After she experienced the importance of spirituality in her recovery, she eventually retired from her previous career and became a minister who focuses her ministry on mental health issues. Hear her story and her path to recovery. Watch the video. More about Barbara’s ministry can be seen on this website.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA), the American Psychiatric Foundation (APF), and the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC)—a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)—have formed a partnership to reduce stigma associated with mental health conditions and foster dialogue between psychiatrists and leaders in the faith community.
APF Executive Director Paul Burke; Ginny Thornburgh, director of the AAPD Interfaith Initiative; and Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, a representative from the American Baptist Home Mission Societies to the IDAC said in a joint statement that the partnership can be a learning opportunity for both psychiatrists and faith leaders and their congregants. “Faith and spirituality can be important sources of hope, healing, belonging, and wholeness,” they said. “The time is right for professionals in the field of psychiatry and for leaders in the faith community to work more collaboratively and to serve people with mental illnesses in new and powerful ways.”
More details about the partnership can be found in a recent article published in Psychiatric News (Read the article in Psychiatric News).
The NAMI 2014 convention will be held in Washington, D.C., September 3-6. Having the NAMI National Convention in Washington, D.C. affords NAMI advocates the chance to educate their Congressional delegations about issues related to mental illness.
The NAMI FaithNet group will have several offerings including a time for networking, a session on Faith Communities – Healing Places in a Hurting World, a poster display and an interfaith service. To register for this convention, visit www.nami.org/convention
Barbara Brown Taylor is an ordained Episcopal priest and a New York Times bestselling author. In her new book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor reflects on finding strength and comfort in troubled times. She has become increasingly uncomfortable with our tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness. Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well?
In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.” She argues that we need to move away from our “solar spirituality” and ease our way into appreciating “lunar spirituality” (since, like the moon, our experience of the light waxes and wanes). Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.
The Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University has published five manuals and workbooks on Religiously-Integrated Cognitive Behavior Therapy (RCBT) with versions for Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhism. They are available by clicking here.
Rev. Barbara Meyers and her mental health team has a wonderful video series, Stories of Recovery. We have lifted up a number of these videos in past Spotlights. The shows feature real, honest, and inspirational stories of mental health recovery - all told by consumers or family members themselves. Once per month, viewers learn how a different person has defied the odds and thrived in spite of mental health challenges. The Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, CA, has also produced resources and training materials. To see current and past video shows visit their website.
Wellspring Mental Health Ministries is dedicated to integrating mental health awareness, education and advocacy with Christian principles. Carole Wills, M.A.R., founder of Wellspring Mental Health Ministries, is editor of the Wellspring MHM e-newsletter, a writer and speaker at churches, seminars and conferences. She is chair of the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) FaithNet Advisory Group. From 2000-2010, she founded and directed NAMI Indianapolis’ mental health educational outreach. Contact Carole at email@example.com to subscribe to the Wellspring e-newsletter.
Mental Health Ministries has just released a new DVD, Stories of Healing and Hope: PTSD, Trauma and Suicide, that features our three most recent shows. With the many natural disasters and other tragic events that have happened in our country, the recent attention to sexual harassment and PTSD among persons serving in the military and the increasing number of suicides occurring for a variety of different reasons, this resource will help congregations in caring and supporting persons affected by these events. The three shows included in this new DVD are: Out of the Ashes: Transforming Trauma, PTSD: Healing and Hope and Suicide and Healing After the Death of a Loved One. This DVD is available for $14.95 on the Mental Health Ministries website. Click here to see a flyer with details on this resource and information on how to order.
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My husband and I recently returned from an amazing cruise through the Panama Canal. Starting in Miami, we visited Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and ports in Mexico as we took the long way home to San Diego. Each country and culture offered us unique experiences and wonderful memories of great people.
I was struck by Costa Rica’s most popular phrase, Pura Vida, when first greeted by our guide. Like the word, Aloha, in Hawaii, Pura Vida is used as a positive response in all types of situations. Pura Vida translates to Pure Life and reflects the people’s free spirit and love for life. “Don’t worry. Be Happy!” Pura Vida is about being in the present and not getting caught up in life’s stress and anxiety…something very difficult for me!
We were next introduced to Pura Vida by the naturalist on our aerial tram ride through the rain forest. He explained how visitors often come with preconceived ideas of what to expect…monkeys flying through the trees, noisy parrots everywhere and amazing flora and fauna. In reality, shows about wildlife usually spend many weeks or months of filming to catch the amazing moments that we see in the final show.
When we come to new situations with expectations of what to expect, we are not living Pura Vida. We are not experiencing the surprising sights and sounds of the present. Pura Vida invites us to use all our senses, to be in the moment and to experience whatever comes our way. The rainforest experience was a reminder to enter into any experience without preconceived expectations and be open to whatever surprises nature (and life) offers us. And, yes, we heard and saw birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, orchids and many other flora and fauna as each layer of the rainforest revealed its own unique ecosystem.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119