We look forward to summer. With no major religious holidays, the summer offers us space when the pace is slower. People plan vacations to physically visit other places, but we can also find ways to “vacate” and be present to our surroundings no matter where we are. This month’s Snippet offers some thoughts on how to mindfully live in the present moment.
For some 23 million Americans, anxiety is more than a simple case of the nerves. Instead, it manifests in severe panic attacks that lead to fearful avoidance of certain places or situations. These fears can be as crippling as any serious physical illness. Help and hope are available. You can view the video, Anxiety Disorders: Overcoming the Fear, produced by Mental Health Ministries on YouTube.
Mental Health Ministries has a new brochure that highlights these issues regarding clergy burnout. It offers ideas on what clergy can do and how congregations can be supportive of their faith leaders. It is available on the Mental Health Ministries website as a brochure under Resources.
The Wellness Activities Workbook is a workbook of the Wellness Institute of the Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey Inc. This small group guide helpspeople with mental health conditions learn new behaviors and habits to improve their personal wellness. Each lesson has been constructed as a group activity that maximizes learning through building positive interpersonal relationships and actively involving participants. The eleven one-hour sessions include such topics as gratitude journaling, mindfulness, leisure planning for wellness and yoga. The workbook shares that:
Wellness is not the absence of disease, illness, and stress but the presence of:
· Purpose in life,
· Active involvement in satisfying work and play,
· Joyful relationships,
· A healthy body and living environment, and
· The presence of happiness.
Mental Illness and Justice Issues is a document written by Deacon Tom Lambert with the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, Commission on Mental Illness. It gives helpful background information and statistics about mental illness as well as addressing important social justice issues including homelessness, prison, access to mental healthcare and employment. Written from a Catholic perspective it also provides helpful information on the role of the church in justice for people with mental illness and their families. This resource is available for download in the Faith Group Resource section on the Mental Health Ministries website.
NAMI FaithNet is an interfaith resource network of NAMI members, friends, clergy and congregations of all faith traditions who wish to encourage faith communities who are welcoming and supportive of persons and families living with mental illness.
NAMI FaithNet strives to encourage welcoming, caring congregations as well as to promote the vital role of spirituality in the recovery journeys of many who live with mental health conditions, those for whom faith is a key component.
In May of 2008, the US House of Representatives announced July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD] and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group to achieve two goals:
For more about National Minority Mental Health Month visit the NAMI website.
A mom, a reproductive psychiatrist and a volunteer with Postpartum Health Alliance came together to create TheBlueDotProject. Receiving a generous grant from the Mason Hirst Foundation, the Project intends to change the face of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety by taking away the stigma and raising awareness. Very often, when a mom is suffering from these symptoms, it can be very isolating. Reaching out for support or talking to others isn’t always easy while feeling this way. The hope is that these BlueDots on your car’s bumper will give them hope that they will get better. For more information go to http://www.thebluedotproject.org/
The birth of a baby is a time of great joy. But women can also find themselves feeling overwhelmed. They may even have negative feelings toward their child that can make them feel confused and guilty. Many new mothers are ashamed to admit these feelings and think they are a "bad mother" for having such thoughts. And so they suffer in silence.
Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression and Families of Faith is an ecumenical resource to educate faith communities about postpartum depression produced by Mental Health Ministries. Background information on symptoms and treatment is provided by mental health professionals. Two women share their personal stories and how this experience affected their faith and recovery. For more information on the DVD visit the website.
This article by Curtis Ramsey-Lucas explores how congregations and faith leaders can work with psychiatrists and the mental health community to develop a culture of encounter and friendship that includes persons with mental health conditions and their families. (View Article Here.) One in five Americans annually experiences mental health conditions ranging in severity from temporary psychological distress to serious depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, yet less than one-third of these persons receives appropriate care, often because of stigma associated with these conditions and their treatments. The Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition (IDAC), a program of the American Association of People with Disabilities, has partnered with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in an effort to change these statistics for the better. Through the Mental Health and Faith Community Partnership, IDAC and APA are encouraging a dialogue between two fields, reducing stigma, and accounting for medical and spiritual dimensions as people seek care.
The partnership is developing resources to train religious leaders about mental health issues and for psychiatrists about faith and faith communities in mental health recovery. Mental Health: A Guide for Faith Leaders with a companion Quick Reference on Health for Faith Leaders Mental are available on the Mental Health Ministries website and as downloads from the APA website at www.psychiatry.org/faith
Bipolar Faith is both a spiritual autobiography and a memoir of mental illness. In this powerful book, Monica Coleman shares her life-long dance with trauma, depression, and the threat of death. Citing serendipitous encounters with black intellectuals like Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Angela Davis, and Renita Weems, Coleman offers a rare account of how the modulated highs of bipolar II can lead to professional success, while hiding a depression that even her doctors rarely believed. Only as she was able to face her illness was she able to live faithfully with bipolar. And in the process, she discovered a new and liberating vision of God. This book will be released July 1 to coincide with Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and is available on Amazon.
From the publisher: Burn out. Two words that haunt those in high stress jobs, especially in the medical profession. Long hours and the literal life-and-death nature of the field creates expectations to not only be on call at all hours, but to be at one’s best, even at 3:00 AM after a twenty-hour shift. So much energy is devoted to the care of others that self-care is forgotten. Yet, more are noticing and research confirms that self-care is needed, not only for personal sanity but also for quality of work. Unwell medical professionals are not the best at treating others. And this self-care includes not just rest, food, and water, but a deeper care, one that tends the spiritual side as well.
From working as a hospital chaplain for over 18 years, Rev. Dorman recognizes the stresses that come to those who have made it their profession to heal others. Healers need healing too—and this guide is the first step. Available for $11.17 at Templeton Press.
This is the story of a woman's struggle with mental illness through which she finds spiritual meaning and, ultimately, God. As a person who has experienced severe psychiatric illness and landed on her feet, Marcia A. Murphy offers a unique first-person perspective. She is qualified to tell what such illness is like, its symptoms, stigmatization, hospitalizations, and daily life. Ms. Murphy takes you into her world and provides insights into the spiritual meaning of her illness. Her story gives desperately needed hope to others who are ill, their families, psychiatric professionals, as well as to those who know someone who is ill. Available on Amazon.
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.
Mindfulness: Living in the Moment
Many of us look forward to summer as a time of relaxation, replenishment, re-creation and an opportunity to break our routine with a vacation. But it often takes most of our vacation to unwind. With our society’s belief in the values of productivity and accomplishment, stopping and finding ways to “vacate” from our many tasks can be difficult. We are so busy “doing” that we seldom take the time to just “be” in the present moment.
Yet people want to find ways to slow down and reduce stress and anxiety. Practicing meditation, mindfulness and centering prayer have been part of all faith traditions over the centuries. Sacred texts tell of the prophets, saints and monastics physically going to a place of quiet and peace to discern the leadings of the spirit.
Today there is a resurgence of interest in reducing stress and anxiety in our hectic lives. In fact the practice mindfulness and meditation has gone main stream with many “mindful” goods and services available. There is an increasing number of “apps” to help us practice mindfulness. I decided to try one!
We may set aside times of quiet reflection and prayer, but my intent was to slow down and be present to the sacredness of the present moment. I find the reminders helpful to pause, take some deep breaths and acknowledge what is happening in my life in the midst of my activities. This intentional practice can enable all of us to be more open to the moments of clarity, rest, creativity and provide a welcoming space for the divine presence to abide.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119