Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Fall 2018

Mental Illness Awareness Week – October 7-13

National Day of Prayer – Tuesday, October 9

National Depression Screening Day – Thursday, October 11

October is Disabilities Awareness Month

Veterans Day – Sunday, November 11


Mental Illness Awareness Week - October 7-13

Mental Illness Awareness WeekSince Congress officially established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.  In 2018, NAMI will promote the theme of "CureStigma" throughout all awareness events, including Mental Illness Awareness Week which takes place from Oct. 7–13.  This theme is important because one in 5 Americans is affected by mental health conditions. Stigma is toxic to their mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment. The perception of mental illness won’t change unless we act to change it.

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. While lifting up resources for specific times of the year like Mental Illness Awareness Week can be helpful, congregations are encouraged to use and adapt resources to educate about mental illness throughout the year.

National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) - October 11

National Depression Screening DayNational Depression Screening Day (NDSD), held annually on the Thursday of the first full week in October, is dedicated to raising awareness and screening people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. NDSD is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that gives access to validated screening questionnaires and provides referral information for treatment.

This year’s theme, Reach Out, focuses on connecting with those around you and finding support for yourself and others. Whether you tell one person, talk to a doctor or mental health professional or become an advocate for mental health awareness, it’s important to reach out to help yourself and help others.  You can take an anonymous screening on this website.

The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding – October 9

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. 9, 2018.  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. 

Pastoral Prayer
Person PrayingLoving Creator, we come to you on this National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding because we know that you are a God of love and compassion. We come as people of all creeds and all nations seeking your presence, comfort and guidance. We come as consumers, family members, friends, co-workers and mental health professionals. We come this day because we believe that you, Divine One, love each one of us just as we are, and you walk with us on our individual journeys through life. You see the ignorance and injustice that divides and separates persons struggling with mental illness and you weep with us.

Give us courage to face our challenges and open us today to the many ways you are already working in our midst. Help us to identify mental illness as the disease it is, that we might have courage and wisdom in the face of ignorance and stigma. Inspire us as we seek to overcome fear, acquire knowledge, and advocate for compassionate and enlightened treatment and services.

Lead us as we open our hearts and homes, our communities and job opportunities, our houses of worship and communities of faith. Enable us to find ways to be inclusive of persons living with mental illness in our everyday lives. Be with doctors, therapists, researchers, social workers, and all those in the helping professions as they seek to overcome ignorance and injustice with care and compassion.

Sometimes, Divine Spirit, we feel discouraged and hopeless in the face of so many challenges. Help us to see ourselves as you see us…persons of value and worth…persons of creativity and potential. May we come to understand the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit in bringing about health and wholeness. And may we go forward into our communities with a renewed sense of vision, hope and possibility for the future. Amen.

~ Reverend Susan Gregg-Schroeder

You can download other 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. The liturgies in this resource can be used any time of the year when addressing mental illness in worship.

Bulletin Insert - Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness WeekThis bulletin insert includes ideas for faith communities to begin an education program with a congregation. 

  • Invite a speaker or offer a workshop to teach people that mental illnesses are brain disorders
  • Get educational material and referral information from groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and Mental Health America (MHA)
  • Use bulletin inserts, brochures and handouts to educate about serious mental illness
  • Offer a health fair and include education about different mental illnesses
  • Use liturgies, prayers and sermons to raise awareness about mental illness
  • Participate in an interfaith community event for the National Day of Prayer for Understanding
Resource: Helping Children and Youth Who Have Traumatic Experiences

Kid experiencing traumaChildren and Youth in the United States are Frequently Exposed to Traumatic Experiences.  They are exposed to shootings and national disasters on television.  Often it is our faith leaders who offer support and care during these traumatic events.  But many childhood traumatic experiences are not known but can affect children later in life.  Such things as witnessing or experiencing physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; bullying; terrorism; loss of a loved one; family and community violence; refugee and war experiences; natural disasters; living with a family member whose caregiving ability is impaired and having a life-threatening injury or illness.

Trauma experienced by children and youth is a pervasive and serious public health issue that requires a coordinated response from health and mental health providers.  Trauma during childhood is associated with a range of physical health and emotional problems, and most tragically, with suicide.  The report, Helping Children and Youth Who Have Traumatic Experiences highlights data on the needs of children, youth and young adults with serious emotional disturbance, drawn from HRSA's National Survey of Children’s Health and SAMHSA's Children's Mental Health Initiative. 

Article by the California Bishops – The Mental Health Care System is Broken

The Catholic bishops of California on May 1 released “Hope and Healing,” a pastoral letter on the care of those who struggle with mental illness. “People who suffer from severe and persistent mental illnesses are among the most misunderstood, ignored and unjustly stigmatized members of our society,” the bishops write in the passionate and strongly worded statement. “For them, our communities and parishes should be places of refuge and healing, not places of rejection or judgment.”

Article – The Stigma of Mental Illness in the Church

Man alone in classroomThe 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. 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.”

It Worked For Us – Gambling Recovery Ministries

Gambling Recovery MinistriesIt only takes one person with a passion to make a difference!  Rev. Janet Jacobs is one of those persons who shares help and hope as the founder of Gambling Recovery Ministries.  "Gambling Recovery Ministries bridges the gaps between the faith-based community, treatment programs, and support groups. Most importantly, GRM works with individuals seeking recovery. Referral information and supportive consultation is provided to both the gambler and his/her loved ones. GRM’s life-saving aim is sharing real hope through information about problem gambling recovery and pointing the way to treatment and support groups."  The Gambling Recovery Ministries website provides a wealth of information on gambling-specific addiction and recovery issues as well as the monthly GRM Blog viewed steadily across the globe.  For more information, Rev. Jacobs article is available on the It Worked For Us section of the Mental Health Ministries website.

October is Disabilities Awareness Month

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 82 Last year Mental Health Ministries became part of the United Methodist Church’s DisAbility Ministries Committee.  Many faith groups include mental illness as part of their disability ministries outreach.  They have mission statements recognizing the gifts of all of God’s children and work for the full inclusion of all persons living with any kind of disability in the life of the congregation. 

What United Methodists Believe About Mental Illness
“We believe that faithful Christians are called to be in ministry to individuals and their families challenged by disorders causing disturbances of thinking, feeling and acting categorized as ‘mental illness.’ We acknowledge that throughout history and today, our ministries in this area have been hampered by lack of knowledge, fear and misunderstanding. Even so, we believe that those so challenged, their families and their communities are to be embraced by the church in its ministry of compassion and love.”

Some of the resources offered by the United Methodist Church include:

The United Methodist DisAbility Ministries Committee is moving to a new website at  . Mental Health Ministries looks forward to continuing to offer resources to help congregations from all faith traditions become caring communities for persons living with a mental illness and those who care for them. 

Book – Disability and Spirituality: Recovering Wholeness

Disability and SpiritualityDisability and spirituality have traditionally been understood as two distinct spheres: disability is physical and thus belongs to health care professionals, while spirituality is religious and belongs to the church, synagogue, or mosque and their theologians, clergy, rabbis, and imams. This division leads to stunted theoretical understanding, limited collaboration, and segregated practices, all of which contribute to a lack of capacity to see people with disabilities as whole human beings and full members of a diverse human family.
In Disability and Spirituality Gaventa shows that disability and spirituality are part of one another from the very beginning of creation. Recovering wholeness encompasses their reunion―a cohesion that changes our vision and enables us to everyone as fully human.  Available on Amazon.

November 11 is Veterans Day

Veterans Day is Sunday, 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 DayMental Health Ministries has produced an interfaith Veterans Day resource that can be used as a bulletin insert or flyer.  It offers some suggestions of how faith communities can support veterans and their families.

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

Video – PTSD: Healing and Hope from Mental Health Ministries

Toni LopezPost Traumatic Stress Disorder is becoming a major health concern as more of our military men and women return from war zones overseas. Studies indicate that as many as one in five service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffers from major depression or combat stress. 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 the Mental Health Ministries video, PTSD: Healing and Hope. Toni served for 25 years in the Navy as a physician's assistant treating both military and civilian casualties at combat field hospitals in Iraq.

Interfaith Network on Mental Illness Caring Clergy Project

INMI LogoThe Interfaith Network on Mental Illness has a number of short videos for clergy and lay leaders about how to deal with congregants who are struggling with mental illness and suicidal despair.  Available on the INMI website.

Videos for Clergy: Making Referrals
Video 1: When to refer a congregant (5:36 minutes)
Video 2: 8 tips for referring your congregants to appropriate mental health resources (8:07 minutes)
Video 3: Developing and maintaining a list of referral resources (4:51 minutes)

Videos for Suicide Prevention, Intervention and Response include:
Video 1: Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Suicide (8:23 minutes)
Video 2: How to Tell if a Person is Considering Suicide (7:51 minutes)
Video 3: Responding to a Suicidal Person (11:30 minutes)
Video 4: Aftermath: Responding to Family Members After a Suicide (7:41 minutes)
Video 5: Aftermath: Designing a Service for a Person Who Has Died by Suicide  (9:17 minutes)

Book – Voices in the Rain: Meaning in Psychosis

Voices in the Rain bookThis 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. Experts in the field from Harvard, Yale, Boston University, the University of Iowa and elsewhere have endorsed this memoir. Available on Wipf and Stock.

Book – The Pastoral Care of Depression: A Guidebook

The Pastoral care of Depression: A GuidebookAs the frontline mental health workers in many communities, pastors need confidence, competence, and skill in handling people with emotional problems. As Author Binford W. Gilbert explains, “Depression is among the most treatable of major illnesses. It enters the realm of the spiritual and demands the best of the pastoral leader to guide, assist, and enhance the struggle for peace and soundness of mind and body.”  Written by Dr. Harold G. Koenig and Dr. Binford W. Gilbert, The Pastoral Care of Depression helps caregivers by overcoming the simplistic myths about depressive disorders and probing the real issues.  The book also addresses a minister’s own emotional, physical, mental, and relational health as well as the pastor’s privileged role that gives him/her unique abilities and opportunities to help others.

Available on Amazon.

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Snippets from Susan

Letting Go
Fall TreeFall is my favorite season of the year. Living in California, we miss the more dramatic seasonal changes experienced in other parts of the country. We do have two beautiful liquid amber trees. Our front yard tree provides a touch of fall as the leaves turn brilliant shades of gold, red, orange and brown. But the tree in our backyard clings to its leaves for several more months. It seems like the tree is unwilling to let go. It holds on tight even as the leaves shrivel and turn brown. The tree is finally forced to let go when the spring buds emerge and push the dead leaves off the branches. I'm the only person I know who rakes leaves in the spring!

Most of us have those things we cling to. Mostly it is out of fear of change and the uncertainty of what lies ahead. It is difficult to really trust the process of letting go to make room for what is to come. But when we do let go, we open ourselves to God's Spirit, coaxing us to new life and awakening our hearts to infinite possibilities for the future.



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