In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI's (National Alliance on Mental Illness) efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since then, mental health advocates across the country have joined with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about mental illness. This year MIAW takes place October 4–10. The theme revolves around building a movement through the new Stigma Free initiative. Click here for more information, suggested activities and a resource toolkit.
MIAW is an opportunity to do something to raise awareness about mental illness in your faith community or to partner with community groups in your area for an event. This e-Spotlight includes 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:
The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding is Tuesday, October 6, 2015. Mental illness networks and faith leaders are urged to work together so that they recognize and prepare for this day in a way that works best for each faith community. The prayers and actions of both faith communities and secular organizations are needed to restore mental wellness in America. By seeking God’s guidance we can recommit ourselves to replacing misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with truth and love in order to offer hope to all who are touched by mental illness.
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. Other resources are available on the NAMI website.
Held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October, National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) is comprised of awareness events that include an optional screening component. National Depression Screening Day began as an effort to reach individuals across the nation with important mental health education and connect them with support services. Screening for Mental Health (SMH) pioneered National Depression Screening Day as the first, voluntary, mental health screening initiative in 1990. Twenty-five years later, NDSD has expanded to thousands of colleges, community-based organizations, and military installations providing the program to the public each year.
This is an opportunity to refer members of your congregation to screening sites in your area. You can take a self-screening test on the NDSD website at http://helpyourselfhelpothers.org/
All too often the term "mental illness" evokes inaccurate, stigmatizing stereotypes. Studies estimate that one-half of people with treatable mental illness do not seek help because of the stigma. Mental health professionals discuss stigma, its effects and moving beyond stigma to hope. The complete show is available on the DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith. A short clip from the longer show is available on the Mental Health Ministries YouTube channel. The entire show can be viewedby clicking here.
It's difficult to imagine that 50% of adults will develop depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, PTSD, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, or some other mental illness in their lifetime. This staggering reality can feel daunting, but there is HOPE. HOPE says that you are not defined by your illness. HOPE says your life has a purpose even when you don't feel it. HOPE says you are not alone.
Rev. Rick Warren and his wife, Kay Warren, responded to the tragic death by suicide of their son by having Saddleback Church sponsor a major conference on mental health and the church. This year’s three day conference will include speakers who will provide practical help and hope for individuals affected by mental illness, their loved ones, church leaders, and mental health professionals. The conference will be held October 7-9, 2015, at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA.
Why are some people—even in the toughest times—always filled with joy, while most of us can't seem to find lasting joy no matter how hard we search? Do joy-filled people know something we don't? The answer is yes! And in her warm, candid style, Kay Warren shares that life-transforming truth with you.
Veterans Day is Wednesday, November 11, 2015. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service.
Besides acknowledging and showing appreciation for the contributions of our veterans, we also need to be proactive in insuring that our veterans receive the support and care they have earned as they make the transition to civilian life. Sadly many veterans continue to be affected by the trauma they experienced known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Our faith communities can help by providing education about PTSD and suicide prevention as well as finding ways to provide support to service members and their families.
Mental Health Ministries has produced an interfaith Veterans Day resource that can be used as a bulletin insert or flyer. Some of the suggestions of what faith communities can do to support veterans and their families include:
Too often men and women remain silent about their emotional struggles. Only about half of those experiencing mental health problems seek treatment. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t just limited to those service members in combat roles. Non-combatant jobs in the military, like doctors, nurses, chaplains and other support personnel can also be exposed to traumatic events that put them at risk for developing PTSD.
Toni Lopez is featured in our video, PTSD: Healing and Hope. Toni served for 25 years in the Navy as a physician’s assistant, including treating both military and civilian casualties at combat field hospitals in Iraq.
While Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a reality for many of our returning service members, things are changing. The military is encouraging people to take their symptoms seriously and to seek help. When treated early, the disabling aspects of PTSD can be treated and need not lead to lifelong problems.
Spirituality and religion are important to health and mental health and should be included in ‐ not excluded from ‐ healthcare services that strive to be holistic and culturally competent. The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health has heard for many years from the people we serve that spirituality and religion are valuable resources in finding hope, achieving wellness and living in recovery. Religion and spirituality are important components of multicultural competence. They are also central to how many people view illness experiences, and how they achieve wellness and recovery. This brochure, produced by the LA County Department of Mental Health, presents a distinction between spirituality and religion. It is available for download under Brochures on the Mental Health Ministries website.
Pastoring is a challenging calling, and due to ongoing stress, high expectations and a multitude of responsibilities, pastors are vulnerable to depression. A Pastor’s Guide for the Shadow of Depression raises important issues that illuminate the way that many pastors suffer in silence. The book is most suited for those who need to be convinced that self-care is important, and that depression is a reality that many pastors will face and does not result from spiritual failure. This book can be ordered from the publisher.
Fireflies recounts Heather Gordon-Young’s quest to find light to ease the darkness and sufferings she encounters as her beloved older brother is enveloped by mental illness. Her search for answers takes her from small-town British Columbia to the heart of Zimbabwe and exposes her to spiritual and religious settings from 12-step programs to American fundamentalism, from Anglicanism to African evangelicalism. Gordon-Young presents her experiences without judgment, and her story reflects where religion helps and where it fails to help find meaning in the midst of life’s most painful challenges.
When an individual and family crisis occurs, when natural disaster strikes, or when global threats arise, many turn to trusted sources for information, clarity and guidance. More often than not, these are the faith or cultural leaders within the community and trusted media outlets. Today’s media delivery system is truly anytime anywhere, unescapably a force shaping our culture. With hundreds of communication channels (radio, TV, print, streaming media, internet) now available, opportunity does exist to reinforce the voice of leaders in our communities and to turn up the volume on conversations originally only heard by a few. This evolution of communication is rapidly shaping attitudes and opinions at a pace far beyond personal communication. This resource catalog is designed to connect faith and cultural leaders, entertainment creators interested in family friendly programming, and journalists with important information that can help to shape the conversation about mental health and substance use issues. A PDF file is available in the Resource Guides section of the Mental Health Ministries website.
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Mental Illness Awareness Week Prayer
O, God, we gather here together today, as people from many different faith communities.
We come before You, remembering all those persons whose lives have been touched by mental illnesses.
We give thanks for those persons here who have given of their time and talents to do what they are able to help persons who are dealing with mental illnesses in their lives and in the lives of their families and friends.
We give thanks for the improvement in medication and treatment programs that have enabled persons with mental illnesses to live productive lives.
We pray that our society would do everything possible to make early diagnosis and treatment a standard operating procedure.
We pray and ask that stigma be removed, so that persons and their families would get the appropriate help as soon as symptoms appear.
Guide each one of us, and help us, as we endeavor to bring help and hope to those families and individuals.
~ Margaret Ann Holt, UMC
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119