Spring is a time of renewal and new life. Many parts of the country had record low temperatures this winter and spring is very welcome. I live in San Diego and we do not have the extreme weather fluctuations. In Southern California we are doing rain dances!
Plants in my garden are confused. They bud and bloom and then almost freeze. I love to work in my garden and especially enjoy my roses. As with many things in life, my garden needs attention and care in all seasons. My least favorite winter task is pruning my roses. Even though I wear gloves, I manage to get scratched and pricked from the thorns.
I recently came across this quote that spoke to me. “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” (Alphonse Karr) My hope is that each us will discover that the thorns in our lives do, indeed, yield beautiful roses.
|"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers. For by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."
- Hebrews 13:2
Mental Health Month was created over 50 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for all by Mental Health America. There are now designated times in May for groups to raise awareness and advocate for improvements in research, prevention and treatment on specific mental health issues. The first week in May, for example, has been designated as Children’s Mental Health Week.
Mental Health Ministries has several downloadable resources specific to Mental Health Month. There are also many excellent educational resources developed by denominations and national groups available in the Resource section of the Mental Health Ministries website. While May is designated as Mental Health Month, educating about mental health issues is important any time of the year.
The first week of May focuses on children and youth. Children’s Mental Health Week is a bulletin insert/flyer using the green ribbon symbol.
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.
Mindfulness meditation may be useful in battles against anxiety, depression and pain, according to a recent study of The Johns Hopkins University. Using data from 47 earlier studies, researchers found moderate evidence to support the use of mindfulness meditation to treat those conditions.
The lead researcher, Dr. Madhav Goyal, reported that there was also about a 10 to 20 percent improvement in symptoms of depression among those who practiced mindfulness meditation, compared to the other group. “This is similar to the effects that other studies have found for the use of antidepressants in similar populations," Goyal said. You can view this article at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/06/us-meditation-anxiety-depression-idUSBREA0511320140106
Founded in 1830 during the “Second Great Awakening” by Joseph Smith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS, commonly called the Mormon Church), is the fourth largest Christian denomination in the United States. The church greatly highlights the values of a strong family, lifelong learning and helping others, including through community service, providing humanitarian aid and an extensive missionary network.
These values were especially pronounced in Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s poignant and compelling talk on mental illness at the church’s recent semi-annual worldwide conference. He specifically focused on his own past struggle with depression and how mental illness must be treated like other chronic conditions. It is the first time that such high level public attention has been given to mental illness in an LDS setting and has raised enormous attention in the LDS community.
Ultimately, though, Holland urges his followers to never give up hope or faith. “Though we may feel we are ‘like a broken vessel,’ as the Psalmist says, we must remember that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. Through any illness or difficult challenge, there is still much in life to be hopeful about and grateful for. We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions.”
The Mental Health Ministries website update was completed last spring. Since then we have been exploring ways to make it easier for individuals and congregations to find the resources they need quickly and easily. We are also working to include the many excellent resources being developed by denominations and national groups such as NAMI FaithNet, Pathways to Promise and the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. If your group has created resources you think will be helpful to faith leaders and congregations, send a PDF file to Susan at email@example.com.
These are the links available under the Resource section of the Mental Health Ministries Website, www.MentalHealthMinistries.net
When Mental Health Ministries started in 2001, there was not much attention given to addressing 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 care for 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 It Worked For Us section of our 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 in sharing your experiences, we might offer ideas and encouragement to others to help them begin or expand a mental health ministry.
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.
Mental Illness and Families of Faith: The Challenge and the Vision, How Congregations Can Respond, is a downloadable resource/study guide for clergy and communities of faith. This tool is designed to be used with clergy, members of congregations, family members and anyone desiring to learn more about mental illness and how to respond with compassion and care. It can be used as a small group study or as a resource to quickly find information on a specific topic when the need arises. As with all Mental Health Ministries resources, you are encouraged to adapt the material and choose what would be most helpful in your particular setting.
This resource is divided into four sections: Section One: Understanding Mental Illness, Section Two: The Unique Role of Faith Communities, Section Three: Creating Caring Congregations, Section Four: Help for Faith Leaders.
This book is a collection of pastoral prayers written by Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder when she served as a pastor. It is a valuable resource for ministers and laypersons that are involved in worship planning. Divided into sections of the liturgical year, over 100 prayers are offered plus a scriptural index. Click here for more information.
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.
I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans in December. I was intrigued by the beauty of a lush plant that was growing on many of the old oak and pecan trees. A mossy green blanket covered many trunks and branches. Our guide told us that the plant was called the Resurrection Fern. The lush leaves that I saw wither up and appear to die in hot and dry weather.
This remarkable plant can lose about 75 percent of its water content during a typical dry period and possibly up to 97 percent in an extreme drought. During this time, it shrivels up to a grayish brown clump of leaves. Resurrection Fern attaches itself to the deep cracks and fissures of the tree bark so that it can survive even though it appears to be dead. It holds on firmly but will “come back to life” within hours of receiving rainfall.
We all have times when we go through very difficult "dry periods" that seem hopeless. It is during those times that we need to hold on tight to persons who care about us until we are “resurrected.”
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119