As we look forward to a new year, Mental Health Ministries remains committed to lifting up timely resources to help create caring congregations for persons living with a mental illness and those who care for them. This e-Spotlight shares some resources on the important issue of how we can be a caring presence for the many persons affected by different kinds of trauma as well as other books and articles to help educate and erase the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities.
Our next e-Spotlight will highlight resources to help you prepare for May is Mental Health Month. For persons who want to begin planning early, these resources can be found on our website at May: Mental Health Month.
The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship has created a list of resources to help those affected cope with the bombings. Resources include articles on how to deal with trauma, hymns and songs in response to terrorism, music for an offertory prayer song and appropriate calls to worship. You can find the resources on the United Methodist Discipleship website.
This newest book in Sidran Institute’s Risking Connection® training curriculum series focuses on the healing role that clergy of all denominations can play in the lives of trauma survivors in their congregations. As many as one in four of the people you encounter may have been deeply wounded by life experiences. When clergy were surveyed, it was found that many were not confident in their ability to support trauma survivors in congregational settings. This book will help clergy understand the nature of psychological trauma, how it affects people, and how faith leaders can help. Because the book is addressed to spiritual leaders, particular attention is paid to the spiritual impact of trauma. This curriculum explains the effects of trauma focuses on the need for growth-promoting relationships explores the connection between trauma and spiritual distress recognizes the value of spirituality in recovery addresses the impact of trauma on the helper looks at how faith communities can promote healing.
The curriculum (which can be used by an individual or as part of a workshop or continuing pastoral education), does not attempt to turn clergy into therapists. Rather, the material helps clergy learn about growth-promoting relationships. It teaches how to access and more productively use the internal resources we have and to enhance those resources through greater self-awareness. Although it focuses on support for survivors of interpersonal trauma, it also speaks to the issues related to care in the wake of any type of trauma. Because this curriculum is intended to be useful to clergy of the major religions and denominations in the United States, the authors have attempted to ensure that all theological perspectives are confined to illustrative use in sidebar examples. Whether serving as a pastor, rabbi, priest, imam, religious or lay leader, you are a crucial resource to your community. This book will better equip you to support the needs of trauma survivors in your midst. Available on Amazon.
Working collaboratively, Pittsburg Theological Seminary and three other agencies compiled a gun violence resource kit. The kit is designed to help churches and other faith-based organizations write sermons, construct worship services, and inform congregants, spreading the message that the violence must end. The kit includes sermon starters and prayers written by Seminary students, community members, and pastors, as well as data about the epidemic of gun violence compiled by the Health Department.
“Every day, gun violence is impacting our communities. It is our duty to do everything we can to raise the issue and commit to working together with communities to solve the problem,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, director of Allegheny County Health Department. “We applaud and join the efforts of faith-based organizations, non-profits, and community members who are doing their part to address violence.” This helpful resource to address gun violence is available on the Mental Health Ministries website in the Resource Guide section.
Many faith communities have developed resources to address faith/spirituality and mental illness. You are encouraged to explore some of these resources that may be helpful to your faith community.
Mental Health Access Pack is a website from the UK. Mind and Soul educates, encourages and enables the church on mental health issues. Livability works with disabled and disadvantaged people and communities. Livability and Mind and Soul have teamed up to provide this website of resources to:
The Mental Health Access Pack website is available at http://www.mentalhealthaccesspack.org/
When bipolar depression descends, elements of faith may provide a lifeline through hopelessness. Scientific evidence is building that people with bipolar disorders who have some type of spirituality in their lives—whether from organized religion, prayer, meditation, art, or beingin nature—recover more quickly from depressive episodes.
In a study that appears in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers at the University of California at San Diego found that spirituality was linked with other positive characteristics such as persistence and humor in a subgroup of individuals with bipolar I. That contrasted with a subgroup identified by characteristics of depression and anxiety. Spirituality often provides a sense of purpose in lifeand a rationale for why things happen the way they do.
Columnist Karl Shallowhorn reports that prayer helps him stay motivated to do the hard work of managing his bipolar. This article can be found on the Bipolar Hope and Harmony blog.
Life, Death and Reinvention: The Gift of the Impossible Messed Up Life is new resource for faith-based clinicians written by Michelle Snyder and Fe Anam Avis. “As an experienced therapist and former pastor, we have come to the conclusion that we need a new way of thinking about human change that we call “reinvention.” By naming reinvention as an authentic expression of discipleship, and framing it in a clearly articulated stage theory, we want to open up a hopeful possibility for hundreds of thousands of persons of faith who need a deep and significant change in their lives. In this book we address
Many times a person who struggles with fear, anxiety, and depression need to try a number of different approaches in order to get certain results. Some people use basic psychology techniques to overcome their anxieties and some people use the help of God to get relief. Every person is different and author, Stan Popovich, addresses both approaches in one easy to read book. Stan gives his readers the ability to pick and choose which techniques work best for them!
For additional information go to managingfear.com.
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Many persons are facing 2017 with uncertainty, fear and anxiety after a long and difficult political campaign and the inauguration of a new president. The constant news coverage can fuel these feelings. Regardless of how you voted, the contentious election has motivated many persons to pay more attention and become more involved in making their voices known especially when it comes to affirming and protecting the inclusion of all God’s children. It is easy to feel helpless and do nothing. But as persons of faith, we can be open to opportunities in our daily lives to reaching out to the least of these.
My daughter and her family joined with their neighbors to paint a peace wall in their neighborhood. My grandchildren had a great time with a paint brush while also expressing our shared hopes for peace in this troubled world.
Last fall my husband and I had the opportunity to visit some countries in Europe. One of the most powerful sites was the John Lennon Wall in Prague, Czechoslovakia. After the death of Lennon, people started painting the words from some of his songs on a monastery wall. This desire for peace and justice was done during the Communist occupation. People continue to add expressions of hope. It felt like a prayer wall.
What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
This is my prayer for 2017.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119