Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Winter 2019

I am one of those persons who feels a real let down after all the activities associated with the winter holidays that really begin with Halloween and end with New Year’s Day.  For many, the darker nights and winter weather contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  These feelings are very common and the article, How to Cope with Post Holiday Syndrome, offers some suggestions to help deal with the post-holiday “blues.” 

  • Expect some letdown.
  • Choose to see the benefits of post-holiday time.
  • Be gentle on yourself with respect to your New Year's Resolutions
  • Continue spending time around people.
  • Do things that give you cause to look forward to something.
  • Make healthy choices.
  • Make this a time for getting professional help and turning around things that have been bothering you
  • Expect to enjoy the year ahead - Trying to keep a positive frame of mind and planning for interesting and fulfilling events throughout the year is a good way to calm your current blues. Think ahead to the changing seasons and the sorts of things you'd like to be doing as the year moves on, and the sorts of activities and events you'd like to be a part of. Doing something about the things you'd like to happen is the first step and once you're immersed in planning and doing, you'll be too busy to fret. 

I find the words of Howard Thurman to be helpful in looking ahead to the New Year:

The Mood of Christmas by Howard Thurman

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.

  1. Teach a balanced view of mental illness as a part of an ongoing education process.
  2. Befriend those who are struggling with mental illness with multiple people so no one person carries the full weight of responsibility.
  3. Have a relationship that includes but transcends the struggle with mental illness.
  4. Help people sort their struggles into categories of transgressions, suffering, and identity which can be caused by biology, environment, or choice.
  5. 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 in the Articles section.

Article – How to Take Care of Yourself -- What Does it Mean?

How to Take Care of Yourself -- What Does it Mean?Rebecca Temsen’s article gives many ideas on ways we can care for ourselves. She lifts up of the Five Wellness Elements including physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual.

Temsen talks about the importance of meditation for the physical and emotional dimensions, as well as the spiritual.  Meditation is merely an observation of thoughts. It is an opportunity to observe any feelings and emotions that arise without judging them. Meditating daily reduces stress and can lead to epiphanies and creative ideas.  None of us can handle everything that life throws at us all by ourselves. Part of learning to love yourself is accepting that you can’t do it all and you don’t have to.

Read the article here.

Video – Out of the Ashes: Transforming Trauma

Transforming Psychological Trauma: How Faith Communities Can Promote HealingNews reporting and videos of the recent wild fires, like so many natural disasters, have affected us all.  It has been gratifying to see once again how communities pull together to care for persons affected by these tragic events.

The Cedar Fire in 2003 in San Diego was one California’s most destructive fires until the Camp Fire.  A close friend and her husband lost their home with four persons perishing on their property trying to escape the flames.  One of the blessings of this tragedy was how our church came together to provide care and support.  Members of our choir gathered to plant four trees to celebrate the lives of those who lost their lives on this property.  Kathleen and Val and their neighbors supported one another in the process of rebuilding.

Mental Health Ministries produced a video, Out of the Ashes: Transforming Trauma, that shares this story and offers a message of hope that we can all find ways to be instruments of God’s grace in the most difficult of times.  Out of the Ashes is available to watch on YouTube.

We also have a downloadable brochure, Transforming Psychological Trauma: How Faith Communities Can Promote Healing.

Manual – Welcomed and Valued Resource Manual

Welcomed and Valued Resource ManualThe Welcomed and Valued Resource Manual from the National CatholicPartnership on Disability (NCPD) features 90+ pages of information, perspectives and tools to assist in the ministry with people with mental illness. The Bilingual DVD (English, with English and Spanish captions) features in-depth looks at people with mental illness and how they participate in parish life. The Resource Manual features 90+ pages of information, perspectives and tools to assist in the ministry with people with mental illness.  It is available on Amazon.

The Welcomed and Valued Resource is also available as a 27-minute open captioned DVD Amazon.

Toolkit for Faith Leaders – The Opioid Epidemic Practical Toolkit: Helping Faith-based and Community Leaders Bring Hope and Healing to Our Communities

On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.  In 2016, over 11 million Americans misused prescription opioids, nearly one million used heroin, and 2.1 million had an opioid-use disorder due to prescription opioids or heroin.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognizes that faith-based and community partners eagerly and willingly step in to meet the needs of their colleagues, friends and neighbors, especially during times of emergency and distress. 
That’s why HHS Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (also known as “The Partnership Center”) created this Practical Toolkit for faith-based and community leaders. This toolkit, which is segmented into seven key areas, briefly covers practical ways your faith community can consider bringing hope and healing to those in need. 

Pathways to Promise Companionship Model Webinar

Pathways to Promise offered an excellent Leadership Forum Webinar in October.  The focus was on explaining the Companionship model created by Rev. Craig Rennebohm.  The webinar was a great success and packed with informative content, critical questions, and encouraging conversation.  You can view the webinar here.

Video – What Faith Communities Can Do to Prevent Suicide

The Lutheran Suicide Prevention Ministry and Sherry Bryant have produced an informative video that can be a good discussion starter on what faith communities can do to prevent suicide. This video is interfaith and includes interviews with five leading suicide prevention scientists. It also gives ideas on what congregations can do to educate about mental illness by promoting connectedness and offering hope. The host, Jerry Pantelakis, talks about the journey of suicide being a spiritual journey of loss of hope and meaning. (View on YouTube)

Book Section on MHM Website

Our e-Spotlights lift up many helpful books dealing with faith/spirituality and mental illness.  We currently have over 50 alphabetized books in the Book section under Resources.  Some books are included in more than one place if they address a specific issue such as those in the Suicide section.  You are encouraged to browse through our unique list of books.

Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis

(Available on Amazon)

Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental IllnessAfter battling bipolar disorder and finding no spiritual support group for his own journey to wholeness, Pastor Brad Hoefs developed his own support group model and workbook. Fresh Hope combines teaching sections centered on basic tenets for recovery. These include accepting a diagnosis, restoring relationships, pushing past excuses and faulty thinking patterns, choosing hope, trusting others, understanding the role of medications and God's purposes for pain. The interactive workbook format allows the individual to respond to supporting Bible passages and recovery principles. Hoef's psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Egger, briefly contributes medical information regarding mood disorders in the Q&A sections at the end of each chapter. The book is available in paperback and as an e-book. Suitable for recovery support groups. Discover more at Fresh

Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality

(Available on Amazon)

Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and HospitalityAs parents of a son with disabilities, Thomas E. Reynolds and his wife know what it's like to be misunderstood by a church community. In Vulnerable Communion, Reynolds draws upon that personal experience and a diverse body of literature to empower churches and individuals to foster deeper hospitality toward persons with disabilities.  

Reynolds argues that the Christian story is one of strength coming from weakness, of wholeness emerging from brokenness, and of power in vulnerability. He offers valuable biblical, theological, and pastoral tools to understand and welcome those with disabilities. Vulnerable Communion will be a useful resource for any student, theologian, church leader, or lay person seeking to discover the power of God revealed through weakness

Resurrecting the Person: Friendship and the Care of the People with Mental Health Problems

(Available at Amazon)

Resurrecting the Person: Friendship and the Care of the People with Mental Health ProblemsIn Resurrecting the Person, John Swinton argues that while mental illnesses are often biological and genetic in origin, the real handicap experienced by individuals is imposed by the types of reactions, values, and attitudes which are typical of contemporary western society. In other words, how a mental illness is experienced has much to do with how it is socially constructed. How will the church react to this suggestion? Swinton suggests that the key to the effective pastoral care of individuals with severe mental illness lies not only within the realms of psychiatry, therapy, and pharmacological intervention, but in the rehumanization which is borne within the relationship of friendship.

They Don't Come with Instructions: Cries, Wisdom and Hope for Parenting Children with Developmental Challenges

(Available on Fortress Press)

They Don't Come with Instructions: Cries, Wisdom and Hope for Parenting Children with Developmental ChallengesIn They Don’t Come with Instructions, Hollie Holt-Woehl offers wise companionship for the journey with a developmentally challenged child.  It is part of a new pastoral care series at Fortress Press. The mother of a son with an autism diagnosis, Holt-Woehl recognizes that parenting is never easy. Challenges abound as parents help children grow up and find their place in the world. But she knows firsthand that adding a developmental challenge makes parenting far more complex.  

Drawing on her own experience and that of nearly forty other parents she surveyed for this book, Holt-Woehl shares stories, information, and insights about tending to the pain, recognizing the joy, and finding ways to keep hope through the ups and downs of this path. The book focuses on the challenges of parenting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD), or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS).

Not only parents, but friends, family, and members of faith communities who seek to understand what it is like to live with a developmentally challenged child will appreciate Holt-Woehl’s down-to-earth and compassionate approach

Mental Health and the Church: A Ministry Handbook for Including Children and Adults with ADHD, Anxiety, Mood Disorders and Other Common Mental Health Conditions

(Available on Amazon)

Mental Health and the Church: A Ministry Handbook for Including Children and Adults with ADHD, Anxiety, Mood Disorders and Other Common Mental Health ConditionsThe church across North America has struggled to minister effectively with children, teens, and adults with common mental health conditions and their families. One reason for the lack of ministry is the absence of a widely accepted model for mental health outreach and inclusion. 

In Mental Health and the Church: A Ministry Handbook for Including Children and Adults with ADHD, Anxiety, Mood Disorders, and Other Common Mental Health Conditions, Dr. Stephen Grcevich presents a simple and flexible model for mental health inclusion ministry for implementation by churches of all sizes, denominations, and organizational styles. The model is based upon recognition of seven barriers to church attendance and assimilation resulting from mental illness: stigma, anxiety, self-control, differences in social communication and sensory processing, social isolation and past experiences of church.

Seven broad inclusion strategies are presented for helping persons of all ages with common mental health conditions and their families to fully participate in all the ministries offered by the local church. The book is also designed to be a useful resource for parents, grandparents and spouses interested in promoting the spiritual growth of loved ones with mental illness.

Hope & Healing for Those with PTSD

(Available on Amazon)

Hope & Healing for Those with PTSDFROM THE AUTHOR, Harold G. Koenig, M.D. - If you or a family member is struggling with a condition called posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), then this little book is for you. As a psychiatrist and research scientist for more than 30 years, I’ve been struck by how many people with PTSD are not being treated correctly for this disorder (and why more than 50% of persons with PTSD continue to suffer disabling symptoms despite treatment).

For that reason, I’ve written this book to inform those affected by PTSD about the condition and the best whole person treatments available today. I describe here what PTSD is, the causes for it, and the factors that protect against it. I also examine a separate condition called moral injury that often accompanies PTSD and can interfere with PTSD recovery unless identified and treated at the same time. I then focus on the best evidence-based treatments for PTSD today -- psychological, medical / pharmacological, and especially, religious or spiritual. If you or a family member has PTSD or are experiencing the aftermath of severe trauma, you will know a lot more about this disabling condition and how to deal with it after reading this book. Hope and healing are just around the corner.  Available for $5 on Amazon.


Mental Health Ministries e-Spotlight Newsletter

If you wish to be added to receive our e-Spotlight newsletter, email Susan with your full name and email at  We send out six e-Spotlights a year full of timely resources.  All our Spotlights are archived on the website and most of the resources included can be found under the Resources section of the Mental Health Ministries website.  The topics are now alphabetized to help you access our resources.

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Snippets from Susan

Offer Whatever Light You Can
Offer Whatever Light You Can by Sandra BoyntonThe New Year encourages us to think about our lives…what nourishes us physically, emotionally and spiritually and what are the areas of our lives where we would like to make changes.

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says, “I think of emotional well-being as a resource within each of us that allows us to do more and to perform better.  That doesn’t mean just the absence of mental illness.  It’s the presence of positive emotions that allows us to be resilient in the face of adversity.”

Murthy suggests we ask ourselves, “Where do we turn for comfort?”  Do we turn to food, alcohol, drugs or other bad habits?  Or do we seek out the company of friends, nature, art, music, exercise or in a caring faith community?

As the cartoon character says, “So much darkness. Offer whatever light you can.” 



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