Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Holiday 2017

The holidays can be a time of great joy as we connect with family and friends and enjoy family traditions.  But this year has been especially difficult with many natural disasters including hurricanes and fires.  There has been loss of life and property and the process of rebuilding will take time.  The tragic shootings not only changed the lives of those persons who lost loved ones, it has also affected the psyche of our nation.  We are reminded of the many victims lost to violence of all kinds.  We pray for world peace but the news reminds us of the many uncertainties and tensions among world leaders and countries.

Thanksgiving offers us a time to reflect on the many blessings in our lives even in the midst of life’s challenges.  We give thanks for persons we may not even know who find ways to provide care and support to persons needing a message of renewal and hope.  We have a choice on how to approach this holiday season.  Gratitude can be a mindfulness practice that can be helpful throughout the season and throughout the year.  Gratitude is even better when it is shared.  When gratitude is expressed even in very simple ways, it is a gift to both the receiver that the giver.

Holiday BouquetGratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  (Melody Beattue)



Brochure - Mental Illness: Coping with the Holidays

Mental Illness: Coping with the HolidaysThe holidays are meant to be a time of meaning.  For Christians, it is a time to consider what the birth of Jesus means to you.  The Jewish holiday of Hanukah celebrates light and hope in the midst of darkness.  The holiday of Kwanzaa offers a time to reflect upon the meaning of ones' African heritage and culture.  For those who identify with no specific religious tradition, we can all be mindful and discover what it means for us to spend time with family and friends and how relationships provide purpose and meaning in our lives.  This Spotlight offers some resources to help all of us make healthy choices on how we want to approach the holiday season. 

But the holidays can be a stressful time even under the best of conditions.  The commercialization of the holiday season bombards us with unrealistic expectations.  The brochure, Mental Illness: Coping with the Holidays, provides helpful self care tips for persons living with a mental illness, tips for families, friends and tips for communities of faith.  You can download this resource from the Mental Health Ministries website in English or Spanish

Blue Christmas and Blue Holiday Worship Services

Faith communities are increasingly attentive to the needs of people who are “blue” during this holiday season.  They are creating sacred space and hospitable settings to include those who face various kinds of losses, grief or depression.  Such services are reflective, accepting the reality of where we are emotionally.  They offer a message of hope and the assurance of God’s presence with us in the midst of our darkness. 

There are a number of sites on the internet that provide worship resources suitable for use at a “Blue Christmas” or “Longest Night” worship services.  One example is the Blue Christmas Worship Resource Index

God’s Timing

O God, grant us a sense of your timing.
In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth what is ready to be born—
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love—
in the fullness of your time.
O God, grant us the sense of your timing.

~ written by Ted Loder, in Guerrillas of Grace.

There are samples of Blue Christmas and a Blue Interfaith Holiday Service in the Worship section under Resources on the Mental Health Ministries website.

Article – Including Mindfulness in Your Holiday Preparations

Cozy Holiday MugVicki Taylor has good intentions in dealing with the holiday stress.  She tries to remind herself to relax, avoid overdoing and to not get anxious.  Sometimes it works and sometimes not.  In the article, Including Mindfulness in Your Holiday Preparations, Vicki offers a list of tips for being more mindful during the holiday season.

Bulletin Insert – What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Midnight Sun Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that affects people around the world.  This summer my husband and I went on a bucket-list trip to Norway.  We arrived in Norway on the Summer Solstice when the sun never set.  Thankfully we had black out curtains!  I took this is the photo of the Midnight Sun in the early hours of the morning.

Some of us who live with a mental health issue are more sensitive to small time changes like daylight savings time.  Adjusting to time change when traveling can be more difficult especially when crossing many time zones.

With SAD, as with all chronic mental illnesses and normal holiday stress, our faith communities can be intentional about finding ways to encourage a healthy winter holiday season that focuses on our faith, our families and our friends.  A bulletin insert/flyer, What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? is available on the Mental Health Ministries Home page.

Articles – Coping with the Holidays Survival Guide

Coping with the Holidays Survival Guide is from the Psych Central.  Their website offers an annual holiday guide that has a wide variety of articles to help us better manage the emotional challenges that the holidays can present.
Some of the many articles offered include:

Article – 10 Tips for Those Struggling with Eating Disorders Around the Holidays

The holidays are coming up, and that means one thing: lots of food. From your grandma telling you to eat seconds, or thirds…or fourths, to the people telling everyone how they’re living it up before they start dieting as part of their new year’s resolution to get healthy.  The abundance of food around the holidays can be especially stressful for persons struggling with body image and eating disorders.  This article offers 10 simple ways to take care of yourself during the holiday celebrations. 

  1. Be honest and open
  2. Make a list of your positive qualities that have nothing to do with your appearance or your relationship to food
  3. Give someone else a compliment
  4. Change the subject
  5. Phone a friend
  6. Spend time with the parts of the family who won’t be talking about diets and food and body image
  7. Change the routine
  8. Help out
  9. Don’t get hung up on the expectations
  10. Love yourself and each other

For details on these tips view the article.

MHM Video Eating Disorders: Wasting Away

Mental Health Ministries offers a video on eating disorders.  Two families share their struggle in dealing with eating disorders.  This video is available on You Tube.  It is also available on our DVD, Mental Illness and Families of Faith.

Article – "Radical Acceptance"

We human beings have lots of ways to deal with painful emotions—not all of them healthy. One of the more positive coping methods is a therapeutic approach called “radical acceptance.” The idea behind radical acceptance is that since pain and suffering are part of life, we need to stop trying to ignore or avoid it. The Serenity Prayer begins, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

That doesn’t mean wallowing in misery, however. Just the opposite, in fact. Radical acceptance means fully acknowledging that something hurts, that you don’t like it, and that you can’t change it in the moment—but also that there are worthwhile things in life beyond this distress. bpHope blogger Jon Butterick explores the idea of radical acceptance on the bpHope website.

Fact Sheet – Facts about Mental Illness and Violence

In October our country was once again reeling from the news of the tragic and incomprehensible shootings in Las Vegas.  We all want to know the motive of the perpetrator of violent acts.  It can be political, a sudden expression of anger against a perceived wrong or a mental health problem. The constant news coverage can lead to false perceptions about acts of violence and mental illness.  Mental Health Reporting has a fact sheet about the relationship of mental illness and violence backed up by studies.
Fact 1: The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent.
Fact 2: The public is misinformed about the link between mental illness and violence. 
Fact 3:
Inaccurate beliefs about mental illness and violence lead to widespread stigma and discrimination. 
Fact 4: The link between mental illness and violence is promoted by the entertainment and news media.

Instead of focusing on the violence, we can find hope and resilience in the many stories of people coming together to help and support each other cope with tragic events.

A Prayer to Live With Grace

May we discover through pain and torment,
the strength to live with grace and humor.
May we discover through doubt and anguish,
the strength to live with dignity and holiness.
May we discover through suffering and fear,
The strength to move toward healing.
May it come to pass that we be restored to health and to vigor.
May life grant us wellness of body, spirit, and mind.
And if this cannot be so, may we find in this transformation and passage
Moments of meaning, opportunities for love
and the deep and gracious calm that comes
when we allow ourselves to move on.

~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro

End of Year Giving

As we approach the end of the year, Mental Health Ministries is thankful for all the faith groups and organizations that have used our resources to educate and support individuals and families affected by mental illness.  The stories you have shared help us to know that YOU are making a difference!  Your tax deductible gifts will help us continue our mission to offer a wide variety of print and media resources on our website at no cost to erase the stigma of mental illness and create caring congregations.  We hope you will consider tax deductible gift to Mental Health Ministries.  You can make a donation through our website or send a check to Mental Health Ministries, 6707 Monte Verde Dr., San Diego, CA 92119.  Your financial support is most appreciated and you will receive a letter acknowledging your contribution for your tax records.

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Snippets from Susan

A Box of Kisses
Gold PresentThe story goes that some time ago a man punished his 3-year old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper.  Money was tight and the little girl was trying to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.  The next morning the excited little girl brought the gift to her father and said, “This is for you, Daddy.”   He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he opened the present and found the box empty.  He yelled at her, “Don’t you know that when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside it?”

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, “Oh Daddy, it’s not empty.  I blew kisses into the box.  All for you.”  The father was crushed.  He put his arms around his little girl and asked her for her forgiveness.   It is told that the man kept that gold box by his bed for years and whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us has been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, friends, family and God.  There is no more precious possession anyone can hold.



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