Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Winter 2018

Anxiety: Overcoming the Fear


The beginning of a New Year finds many of us taking stock of our lives, making resolutions for change and setting goals.  Jean Twenge, a psychologist at San Diego State University, suggests that a shift towards Extrinsic goals (those having to do with material rewards or other people’s judgments) from more Intrinsic goals (those having to do with one’s own development and finding meaning) could be related to feeling a loss of control.  This shift may be one reason that Americans are so anxious.

Nearly one in five of us — 18 percent — has an anxiety disorder. We spend over $2 billion a year on anti-anxiety medications. College students are often described as more stressed than ever before. Anxiety in children is also on a rise.  Our faith communities are one place to lift up the Intrinsic goals of finding meaning, worth and purpose through the shared values of a caring community.  This Spotlight focuses on how fear and anxiety affect our daily lives and it offers some ways that we can addresses these concerns individually and with the support of others.

NEW Brochure from Mental Health Ministries - Anxiety Disorders: Overcoming the Fear

Anxiety Disorders: Overcoming the FearA new brochure from Mental Health Ministries can be used as a handout to help educate congregations about the different types of anxiety disorders and how congregations can help.  Anxiety can make people feel as if no one cares and they don’t see a way forward.  This may cause people to pull back from social situations…and from their faith.  One of the greatest problems for those with anxiety is the lack of seeing the future as positive.  A faith community can offer a vision of hope and assurance that the individual is not alone.  Congregations can offer a safe, welcoming and accepting community with people who care and will listen without judgment.  Practices of prayer, meditation and mindfulness can help persons calm their breathing and center their bodies in the present. View the new brochure on the MHM Website.

Mental Health Ministries Videos on Anxiety

Mental Health Ministries has two videos that address anxiety issues:

Anxiety Disorders: Overcoming the Fear
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. The complete show is available on the DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith. Or watch it on YouTube.

Overcoming Stigma Finding Hope
All too often the term "mental illness" evokes inaccurate, stigmatizing stereotypes. Studies estimate that one-half of people with treatable mental illness do not seek help because of the stigma. Carol shares her story on how she moved beyond depression and the accompanying anxiety. Mental health professionals discuss stigma, its affects and moving beyond stigma to hope. The complete show is available on the DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith. Or watch it on YouTube.

Article Overcoming Anxiety

Overcoming AnxietyAn article by Robin L. Flanigan from Esperanza magazine, gives a description of the different types and degrees of anxiety disorders and offers tool and treatments that can help combat the constant worrying, irrational fears or panic attacks.  No one medication or treatment will work for everyone, but she stresses the importance of accepting that you have an anxiety disorder.  The article talks about Rod, a retired pastor.  “Meditation is a form of acceptance,” says the pastor, who also takes a low dose of anxiety medication. “An hour after you’ve done your meditation, the same symptoms can occur, but now, instead of saying, ‘Dang it, here it comes again,’ I just tell the anxiety, ‘I’ve got to do things today that I think are important, and if you want to come along, come along.’”  View the article.

Article – A Healthy Home is a Happy Home: How to Optimize Your Home for Healthy, Stress-free Living

Stress-Free LivingIt’s no secret that our environments influence the way we think, feel and act. Most people desire good health and for most people, their home is the environment they are most often surrounded by. Everyone deserves to live a happy, healthy life and we can start by creating a home environment optimal for health.  Stress reduction is the first step toward living a healthy life, because stress is a large determinant of good health. Continuous or chronic stress can cause muscle tension, headaches and migraines, heart problems, adrenal fatigue, nausea, overeating and is overall draining for your energy levels.

This blog article offers a number of suggestions on ways to make changes where you live to reduce stress and promote overall health.  For example, you can relieve stress by bringing some plants into your home.  A few ideas include looking to reduce clutter, setting aside a place for solitude and meditation, making healthier choices about food and simple things like bringing some plants inside.  Studies have shown that exposure to nature improves mood and reduces stress.  Article available at How to Optimize Your Home for Healthy, Stress-free Living.

Research Study – Benefits of Mindfulness for Combating Anxious Thoughts

Mindfulness MeditationJust 10 minutes of daily mindful mediation can help prevent your mind from wandering and is particularly effective if you tend to have repetitive, anxious thoughts, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.  The study, which assessed the impact of meditation with 82 participants who experience anxiety, found that developing an awareness of the present moment reduced incidents of repetitive, off-task thinking, a hallmark of anxiety.  The study, co-authored by Waterloo psychology professors Christine Purdon and Daniel Smilek and Harvard University’s Paul Seli, was published in Consciousness and Cognition. Available at bpHope.

Article –Almost Two-Thirds of Children Worry All the Time

Children WorryThe BBC reports on a study that reveals the number of 11 and 12-year-old children who experience anxiety. Concerns about family and friends and fear of failing at school are the top causes of anxiety. There was a gender divide, with 36% of girls worrying about being bullied, compared with 22% of boys. More than 80% of the children surveyed said the best way for adults to help was to listen sympathetically and pupils said it was important to be kind to anxious classmates. The most common coping strategies were talking to family members (72%) or to friends (65%), while 65% of boys calmed themselves by playing computer games compared with 39% of girls. View the article.

Center for Anxiety e-Newsletter

Center for Anxiety e-NewsletterThe inaugural issue of the Center for Anxiety’s e-newsletter has recently been announced. The Center, with offices located in New York City, Brooklyn, and Boston, focuses on religiously/spiritually-integrated treatments for anxiety (particularly for those from Jewish backgrounds, but also for those from any religious or non-religious background). For more information and to register to receive the newsletter, see their website or contact the Center’s founder and director, Dr. David H. Rosmarin at

Article – Bipolar & Pets: Breaking the Grip of Panic Attacks

Bipolar & Pets: Breaking the Grip of Panic AttacksA blog from a bphope shares how pets can be helpful when you are in the midst of a panic attack. Whether it’s a service dog or a companion animal, pets have been documented to get the attention of their owners during an anxiety episode or a panic attack and break the grip the panic has. For some, having a psychiatric dog will allow people to go out in public again with confidence. They know that if they have a severe attack, their dog will get their attention, break the spell and offer love and affection.
Article at bpHope.

Book – Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry

Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of WorryOur culture is frantic with worry. We stress over circumstances we can’t control, we talk about what’s keeping us up at night and we wring our hands over the fate of disadvantaged people all over the world, almost as if to show we care and that we have big things to care about. Worry is part of our culture, an expectation of responsible people. And sadly, Christians are no different. But we are called to live and think differently from the worried world around us. Worry is a spiritual problem, which ultimately cannot be overcome with sheer willpower–its solution is rooted entirely in who God is.

Challenging the idolatrous underpinnings of worry, former Christianity Today executive Amy Simpson encourages us to root our faith in who God is, not in our own will power. Correctly understanding the theology of worry is critical to true transformation. Available on Amazon.

Article – How to Re-Awaken Your Spirituality to Reconnect with the Natural World

How to Re-Awaken Your Spirituality to Reconnect with the Natural WorldThe key to your health and happiness may lie in how spiritual you are in your daily life.  In fact, research regarding religion, spirituality, and health by Dr. Harold G. Koenig found that people who were more spiritual fared better regarding mental health over their lifetimes.  While he notes that religion, medicine, and healthcare have always related to one another, Dr. Koenig suggests that in recent times society has separated those components. However, recognizing the effects of spirituality on our health and well-being is important for maintaining good health and recovering from illness. View the article here.

Article – 5 Ways the Church Can Help Someone Facing Mental Illness

This article, 5 Ways the Church Can Help Someone Facing Mental Illness, by Brad Hambrick, is an edited excerpt from “Towards a Christian Perspective of Mental Illness.”  Hambrick states, Undoubtedly, mental illness is a difficult subject to address because of its complexity and highly personal nature. Everyone is affected by mental illness; either personally or someone they love. As a result, it is a subject that must be discussed and addressed in the church. Let’s not let our silence hurt people by leaving them to struggle in isolation.  The article offers five ways the church, corporately or through individuals can help someone facing mental illness.

  • Teach a balanced view of mental illness as a part of an ongoing education process.
  • Befriend those who are struggling with mental illness with multiple people so no one person carries the full weight of responsibility.
  • Have a relationship that includes but transcends the struggle with mental illness.
  • Help people sort their struggles into categories of sin, suffering, and identity which can be caused by biology, environment, or choice.
  • Attend a counseling session with your friend, take notes, gain an understanding of their struggle, and serve as an echo of key truths or practices recommended by the counselor.

 “Towards a Christian Perspective of Mental Illness,” is available for free in its entirety in both video presentation and PDF article formats.  The PDF file is available on the Mental Health Ministries website.

Blog Posts from Church4EveryChild – Key Ministry

Helping to connect churches and families of kids with disabilitiesKey Ministry encourages readers to check out the resources they’ve developed to help pastors, church leaders, volunteers and families on mental health-related topics, including series on the impact of ADHDanxiety and Asperger’s Disorder on spiritual development in kids, depression in children and teenspediatric bipolar disorder, and strategies for promoting mental health inclusion at church.

Article – Depression in Children and Teens...a Primer for Pastors, Church Staff and Christian Parents

Depression in Children and TeensStephen Grcevich, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and Key Ministry Board Chairman, developed this series of blog posts for a teaching series.  Links to the posts in the series are presented here, along with a list of recommended resources for pastors, church staff, volunteers and parents seeking to serve kids and teens with depression and their families. For additional free resources and support in ministering to kids with disabilities and their families, check out the Key Ministry website.

Book – Spiritually Integrated Psychotherapy: Understanding and Addressing the Sacred

Spiritually Integrated PsychotherapyFrom a leading researcher and practitioner, this volume provides an innovative framework for understanding the role of spirituality in people's lives and its relevance to the work done in psychotherapy. It offers fresh, practical ideas for creating a spiritual dialogue with clients, assessing spirituality as a part of their problems and solutions, and helping them draw on spiritual resources in times of stress. Written from a nonsectarian perspective, the book encompasses both traditional and nontraditional forms of spirituality. It is grounded in current findings from psychotherapy research and the psychology of religion, and includes a wealth of evocative case material. Available on Amazon.

Book – Suffering and Spirituality: The Path to Illness and Healing

Suffering and SpiritualityAfter twelve years, author Lorraine M. Wright, RN, PhD revisits her well-received book, Spirituality, Suffering, and Illness: Ideas for Healing (2005). With updated research and new illness narratives, this latest edition provides insights, guidance and advice for individuals and families experiencing suffering and for helping professionals seeking to soften their suffering. Spirituality and Suffering: The Path to Illness Healing also offers clinical practice ideas from a nonreligious approach of the crossroads of suffering, spirituality, and illness. A holistic model emphasizing suffering, spirituality, and illness beliefs, the Trinity Model, is also offered. Actual clinical examples are provided to show how to integrate, implement, and enhance health professionals spiritual care practices that soften suffering with patients and families experiencing serious illness, disability, or loss. Available on Amazon.

Book – Moral Injury: Restoring Wounded Souls

Moral Injury: Restoring Wounded SoulsMoral Injury: Restoring Wounded Souls is a resource by Larry Graham Ph.D. for chaplains, pastors and spiritual caregivers designed to help people through the practices of soul care and moral guidance.  Dr. Graham has studying the traumatic impact of war, moral dissonance and injury in the life of individuals and communities.

The author says that if we can share our burdens, we can bear them. If we can bear them, we can change the circumstances that brought them about. In a world where anything goes, people have a hard time deciding what is right and what is wrong.  This book offers help for persons dealing with their feelings of guilt, shame, and responsibility when many people don’t believe in sin and have a limited or “flexible” moral framework.
Available on Amazon.

New Home for Mental Health Ministries

DisAbility Ministries CommitteeMental Health Ministries has recently come under the United Methodist Disability umbrella to collaborate with the DisAbility Ministries Committee (DMC) to find ways to include all God's children with physical and emotional disabilities.  The focus of the fall DisAbility Ministries Committee newsletter is mental illness.  It includes stories of what some churches are doing and helpful links.  View their latest newsletter.

"Like" Mental Health Ministries on Facebook

FacebookWe encourage you to “Like” us on our Facebook pageto get timely updates on resources, articles, and ideas of what other people are doing. We also encourage your comments, contributions and notifications about programs or events.

Snippets from Susan

Fidget Quilts
Fidget QuiltsMy husband and I volunteered to help a group make “fidget quilts” …even though neither of us sew!  A "Fidget, Fiddle, or Busy" Quilt or Activity Blanket is a small lap quilt, mat or blanket that provides sensory and tactile stimulation for the restless or "fidgety" hands.  They provide sensory or tactile stimulation through the use of fabric choices, colors, value of colors next to one another, textures, and the use of accents or simple accessories such as pockets, laces, trims, appliques, buttons, secured beads, ribbons, braids etc. 

Fidget Quilts Close-upOur quilts were donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.  But these quilts can also be helpful for persons with autism or anxiety disorders to keep hands busy.  I loved the soft, silky fabric on the quilt I worked on…hard to give it up! 



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