Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Fall 2017

Mental Illness Awareness Week – October 1-7

National Day of Prayer – Tuesday, October 3


National Depression Screening Day – October 5

Veterans Day – November 11


Mental Illness Awareness Week - October 1-7

Mental Illness Awareness WeekMental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is a national observance that was designated by the United States Congress and U.S. President in response to the increasing incidence of mental illness. It takes place during the first week in October.  Mental Illness Awareness Week this year is Oct. 1-7, 2017. 

Mental Illness Awareness Week (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.  There is a section on the Mental Health Ministries website with resources under October Mental Illness Awareness Week.

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:

National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding - October 3

The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding has been designated as the Tuesday of Mental Illness Awareness Week which is first week in October of each year. This year, the National Day of Prayer takes place Oct. 3, 2017.  Mental illness networks and faith leaders are urged to work together so that they may 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 (e.g. NAMI, NMHA, DBSA, OCF, ADAA, etc.) are needed to restore mental wellness in America. In seeking God's guidance, we can recommit ourselves to replacing misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with truth and love 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. 


CandlelightingWe light the candle of Truth that God will help us dispel ignorance and misinformation about major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, severe anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. (Silent prayer)

We light the candle of Healing that troubled minds and hearts, broken lives and relationships might be healed.  (Silent prayer)

We light the candle of Understanding that the darkness of stigma, labels, exclusion and marginalization might be dispelled for the sake of those touched by mental illness.  (Silent prayer)

We light the candle of Hope for persons and families living with mental illness, for better treatment, for steadier recovery, for greater opportunity to work and serve.  (Silent prayer)

We light the candle of Thankfulness for compassionate, dedicated caregivers and mental health professionals; for new discoveries in brain research and better medications.  (Silent prayer)

We light the candle of Faith to dispel doubt and despair for those who have lost hope and are discouraged.  (Silent prayer)

We light the candle of Steadfast Love to remind us of God’s love and faithfulness, and to remind us to share the light of love and service for those living with mental illness.  (Silent prayer)

National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) – October 5

National Depression Screening DayHeld 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.

Screenings are held both online and in-person and thousands of people participate 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

NAMI: Disaster and Emergency Resources

NAMI Disaster and Emergency ResourcesThe disastrous hurricanes of Harvey and Irma have taken lives, destroyed homes and separated families. Our hearts and prayers go out to the thousands of people affected by these disasters. The stress and devastation of such an event can have a profound emotional impact on the people affected and those who respond to help. Many of our clergy and faith communities are on the front lines in their neighborhoods and at the evacuation centers.  They will be there to offer hope as these communities come together to recover and rebuild. 

NAMI has put together contact numbers, information and resources for disasters and emergencies including fact sheets on warning signs, risk factors for emotional stress, coping with grief after a disaster, managing stress and psychological first aid for first responders.  Available on the NAMI website.

Resources for Veterans

Veterans Day is Saturday, November 11.  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 because 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.

Bulletin Insert – Veterans Day: A Time to Remember and Support

Veterans Day Bulletin InsertMental Health Ministries has produced an interfaith Veterans Day resource that can be used as a bulletin insert or flyer.  Some suggestions of how faith communities can support veterans and their families include:

  • Publicly acknowledge members of the congregation who have served or are serving in the military through prayers, listing names in the service bulletin and posting photos of those currently serving. 
  • Send letters, care packages and other tokens of support to persons who are deployed.
  • Support families dealing with the transition of persons leaving for service and returning from service.  Faith communities can reach out through phone calls, providing meals, providing child care and, most importantly, providing a listening ear.
  • Know the signs of distress and reach out when an individual or family is struggling.  Children are especially sensitive to signs of stress in the home.
  • Provide non-judgmental pastoral care and opportunities for veterans to share their story and talk about how their combat experience has affected their faith.

Veterans Day: A Time to Remember and Support is available to be downloaded in English and in Spanish.

Video from Mental Health Ministries – PTSD: Healing and Hope

Toni LopezToo 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.

Supporting Our Veterans and Active Duty
  • At the NAMI Veterans and Military Resource Center you will find resources, support, and partnerships dedicated to mental health policy, education initiatives and advocacy priorities that impact active duty military personnel, veterans with mental illness and the family members of these individuals.
  • The Presbyterians for Disability Concerns Network (PDC) has a resource packet, The Wounds of War: The Church as a Healing Community, available on the Mental Health Ministries website


Book – Welcome Them Home Help Them Heal

Welcome Them Home Help Them HealNo two veterans have the same war experience, nor, upon returning from war do they face the same reintegration challenges. Likewise, veterans heal and recover in their own ways and along their own timelines. Working together, compassionate, knowledgeable, and skilled caregivers, friends, and professionals can give veterans life-saving and life-giving care and support.  Several chapters of the book are dedicated to helping faith communities minister effectively to returning soldiers by outlining the basic principles for outreach, providing guidelines for creating a welcoming and safe environment, and sharing ideas for activating the healing rituals of the church year. Available on Amazon.

Book – Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After War

Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury After WarAlthough veterans make up only 7 percent of the U.S. population, they account for an alarming 20 percent of all suicides. And though treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder has undoubtedly alleviated suffering and allowed many service members returning from combat to transition to civilian life, the suicide rate for veterans under thirty has been increasing. Research by Veterans Administration health professionals and veterans’ own experiences now suggest an ancient but unaddressed wound of war may be a factor: moral injury. This deep-seated sense of transgression includes feelings of shame, grief, meaninglessness, and remorse from having violated core moral beliefs.

Soul Repair will help veterans, their families, members of their communities, and clergy understand the impact of war on the consciences of healthy people, support the recovery of moral conscience in society, and restore veterans to civilian life. When a society sends people off to war, it must accept responsibility for returning them home to peace. Available on Amazon.

Video – Sadness vs. Depression – Which is it?

Bench SittingBp Magazine columnist, Melody Moezzi, discusses the distinction between clinical depression and typical sadness in a video, Sadness vs. Depression – What Is It?  Moezzi writes:

“In the case of depression, a lot of cases it’s more identified not so much as sadness—sadness is there in a lot of cases, but there’s also an intense apathy and sort of heaviness, a feeling that like everything you’re doing is walking through water. Right, like it’s just everything’s a little harder to do. And for me and for a lot of other folks, depression involves a lot of isolation, a lot of just not answering phone calls, not replying to emails, those kinds of things. And it also can involve a lot of physical symptoms. For me, migraines; for other folks, migraines as well, but also other aches and pains and things like that. And then there are cognitive symptoms as well in terms of depression affecting memory.  And sleep, and you know, there are a lot of different symptoms. But again, the key in terms of the distinction of when you’re just feeling just sad and when you’re feeling [clinically] depressed is your ability to function within society”

The article and video are available on the bp Hope website.

Mental Health Ministries also has a handout tool that allows you to compare traits of normal grief and clinical depression, Possible Distinctions Between Depressive Grief and Clinical Depression.  It is available in English and Spanish. (PDF, English | PDF, Español)

Article – The Stigma of Mental Illness in the Church

The Stigma of Mental Illness in the ChurchThe article, The Stigma of Mental Illness in the Church, from Sojourners magazine emphasizes that many churches (I would add communities of faith) don’t have a robust theology that accounts for those who live with experiences of mental illness. The bottom line is that illnesses and disabilities don’t fit in to mainstream theologies. Because of this, Christian ethics and moral imagination often diminish people who live with experiences of mental illness.  The author, Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, states, “If one of our greatest social sins is the lack of access to mental health care, it is a moral imperative to begin a discourse around mental health in our faith communities so that we are not silencing those who live with experiences of mental illnesses.”

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Snippets from Susan

WheatPresence is what we are all starving for.  Real presence!  We are too busy to be present, too blind to see the nourishment and salvation in the crumbs of life, the experience of each moment.  Yet the secret of life is this: There are no leftovers!  There is nothing – no thing, no person, no experience, no thought, no joy or pain – that cannot be harvested and used for nourishment on our journey to God.
~ Macrina Wiederkehr



Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119