Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Summer 2019

I am at a place in my life where peace is a priority.

Article – Rest

Jesus said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” Mark 6:31

Rest ArticleRachael Keefe shares some thought on self-care saying, “Self-care is a word that is often tossed about these days. It can mean many things. Self-care can mean taking a mental health day and staying home to catch up on sleep. It can mean daily prayer or meditation or a relaxing hobby. It can include a healthy diet and exercise routine. Usually, self-care is brought up when someone notices we are a bit off balance.”

This is something for all of us to think about.  What renews our spirit and gives us rest from our busy and often stressful lives?  I hope you will identify how you can find times of rest from the busyness of life and make a commitment to find time to “just be.”

Read the article here.

Book – Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives

Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy LivesWe lifted this book up last summer, but I think we all need to be reminded of the importance of finding Sabbath in our daily lives.  In today's world, with its relentless emphasis on success and productivity, we have lost the necessary rhythm of life, the balance between work and rest. Anxiety levels in our country are rising at alarming rates for people of all ages.

We need not even schedule an entire day each week. Sabbath time can be a Sabbath afternoon, a Sabbath hour, a Sabbath walk. With wonderful stories, poems, and suggestions for practice, Muller teaches us how we can use this time of sacred rest to refresh our bodies and minds, restore our creativity, and regain our birthright of inner happiness.  

Available on Amazon.

Article – The Time My Psychiatrist Sent Me on Retreat

He leaned back and sighed. “I think what you need is a spiritual experience.”

This article by Kathrine Willis Pershey, shares how a psychiatrist suggested his pastor patient needed a “spiritual experience.”  Pershey shares about the retreat that helped her with her healing.  She writes, “As a pastor, I’ve encouraged many parishioners to seek mental health care. It never dawned on me that it could go the other way—that a psychiatrist could realize he was out of his depth with the woman weeping in his office, recognizing that her soul sickness hadn’t been covered in his medical training and that she needed to go elsewhere to be healed.” 

At a daylong silent retreat, Rev. Pershey writes of a spiritual director who helped her.  “The spiritual director was a woman of few words, but she chose them carefully, sending me on my way with another heartening promise: that all this sadness may be harrowing, but it was harrowing in me a deeper capacity for joy. She gave me a Puritan prayer that I’ve kept in my pocket since:

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart.

Book – Faithful and Fractured

Faithful And FracturedClergy suffer from certain health issues at a rate higher than the general population. Why are pastors in such poor health? And what can be done to help them step into the abundant life God desires for them?

Although anecdotal observations about poor clergy health abound, concrete data from multiple sources supporting this claim hasn't been made accessible--until now. Duke's Clergy Health Initiative (CHI), a major, decade-long research project, provides a true picture of the clergy health crisis over time and demonstrates that improving the health of pastors is possible. Bringing together the best in social science and medical research, this book quantifies the poor health of clergy with theological engagement. Although the study focused on United Methodist ministers, the authors interpret CHI's groundbreaking data for a broad ecumenical readership. In addition to physical health, the book examines mental health and spiritual well-being, and suggests that increasing positive mental health may prevent future physical and mental health problems for clergy. Concrete suggestions tailored to clergy are woven throughout the book.

Available on Amazon.

Brochure – Clergy Self-Care

Clergy Self-Care BrochureSometimes congregations need to encourage and support faith leaders to take Sabbath time.  Mental Health Ministries has a brochure, Clergy Self-Care: How Clergy and Congregations Can Prevent Burnout and Support Healthy Living.  This brochure highlights issues regarding clergy burnout. It offers some ideas on what clergy can do and how congregations can be supportive of their faith leaders. It is available on the Mental Health Ministries website as a brochure under Resources. 

Brochure – Comfort from the Scriptures for Persons with Mental Illness

Mental illness has been referred to as a “no casserole” illness.  Persons with a physical illness receive visits if hospitalized and support and prayers as they deal with their illness.  But faith leaders and individuals often do not know what to say when a person has a serious mental illness.  This brochure offers something tangible to bring to a person in a psychiatric hospital, group home or at home to offer comfort and hope with words from the scripture. When persons with a mental illness are able to use their faith and spirituality as a source of healing and support, they discover a renewed sense of vision, hope, and possibilities for the future. 

Download the brochure here.
NEW Devotion Book – A Spiritual Path from Darkness to Hope: Devotions for Your Time in Psychiatric Care

A Spiritual Path from Darkness to Hope: Devotions for Your Time in Psychiatric CareFrom the author Chaplain Deborah Forstner…”I minister on the psychiatric unit of a hospital as chaplain. This particular ministry has been an interest area of mine for many years, for both professional and personal reasons. People hospitalized on the unit where I work often have requested spiritual reading materials. Because so many admitted to a hospital due to mental health needs have made suicide attempts or are experiencing strong suicidal ideation, I wanted the devotional to be direct in addressing this and similar concerns. As a result, I wrote this book for 7-days of devotions, with a prayer to say at the time of and after discharge. Besides chaplains, this resource is something pastors could print and bring along when visiting a congregation member in the hospital. Another possibility would be using pages from this book in one-on-one pastoral care work by clergy, Christian therapists, or others. Finally, small group facilitators in a community program for those struggling with mental illness could use the devotional as a basis for a seven-session small group.”

This devotional book is available as a PDF file on the Mental Health Ministries website.

Articles from Resource Section

Each Spotlight offers downloadable articles relating to faith and spirituality.  Mental Health Ministries has included some of these articles in a section under Resources labeled Articles.  New articles continue to be added to our e-Spotlights.

Visit Our Articles Page

Article – Stepping Into the Light: Christians & Mental Illness

Stepping into the Light: Christians and Mental IllnessLily Dunn writes, “Members of our faith communities are suffering in silence because we have, in our own ignorance, made them feel isolated or given them the sense that their struggles are primarily a spiritual failing.  We have to do better. We must educate ourselves. We must ask questions. We must never dismiss someone else’s experience based on what we think mental illness should look like. We must resist the temptation to give a neat answer to a messy problem. We must talk about mental illness as a real and valid struggle that some Christians face, even if we ourselves haven’t experienced it. This is how we love one another. This is how we build the kingdom.”

Read the article here.

Article – 10 Ways Churches Can Partner with Mental Health Services

10 Ways Churches can Partner with Mental Health ServicesRev. Dave Eckert, Director of the Intersect Initiative, Access Services in Pennsylvania, offers a list of best practices describing how churches can make connections with local community mental health services.  The list is divided into three sections including Finding Partners, Starting the Conversation and Collaborating.

Read the article here.

Article – Curing and Healing

“When our daughter was first diagnosed with a mental illness, we prayed and prayed that God would take this terrible disease from her. We wanted it to be gone. She wanted it to be gone. No one should be suffering so. Other people were cured of their diseases. They took special medications or had surgery. They listened to everything the doctors told them, and they prayed for their disease to be gone….and for many of them it was. There was a cure. Couldn’t there be a cure from our daughter’s mental illness too?”
(Article written by One Mind Mental Illness Ministry)

Read the article on the MHM website.

Article – The Christian Church's Mental Health Crisis

John Pavlovitz writes, "The greatest gift the Church can give people is the space to be unwell. We need to let mentally ill people step out of the darkness and speak their full, unvarnished truth. We need to treat depression with the same sensitivity, compassion, and lack of moralizing that we give to people with lung cancer or heart disease. We need to see those suffering in silence right next to us and tell them they aren’t alone. We need to see spiritual practices as part of a comprehensive plan to help people navigate their dark places—not the only options. We need to use every resource at our disposal to treat these illnesses as illnesses, not as spiritual failures or messages from God.”

Read the article here.

Article – Why Clergy and Spiritual Leaders May be Reluctant to Address Mental Health Issues

Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder writes, “As an ordained minister and a person who lives with a mental illness, I am often asked why it is so difficult for many spiritual leaders to talk openly about mental illness.  It is a complicated issue, but I offer some observations based on my personal experience and in speaking with colleagues. Having the support of the leadership in a congregation is essential to moving forward to create a caring congregation for persons living with a mental illness and their families.” 

Does Your Pastor Know…

  • One in five persons sitting in our pews has a family member struggling with mental health issues
  • Many persons with a mental health issue go first to a spiritual leader for help
  • Studies show that clergy often lack the training to provide appropriate support and referral information
  • Our faith communities can be a caring congregation for persons living with a mental illness and their family members

Read the article on the MHM website.

Article – 10 Ways to Combat Discrimination with Compassionate Language

10 Ways to Combat Discrimination with Compassionate LanguageThe language we use to talk about mental health is especially important. It can have powerful consequences. While some may intentionally use unkind labels to describe individuals with mental health conditions, most people are just unaware that their language choices are harmful. To promote better understanding of appropriate language for mental health and to combat discrimination against individuals living with these challenges, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) has created ten principles of compassionate language.

Read the article on the MHM website.

Article – Top 10 Resources for Mental Health Ministry

Top 10 Resources for Mental Health MinistryStatistically, a member of the clergy is the number-one place people go when they seek help for mental illness.  This article offers books, websites, organizations, and people who can help you help those with mental illness and their families.

Read the article here.

Article – Catholics Must Do More to Accompany People with Mental Illness

Catholics Must Do More to Accompany People with Mental IllnessDeacon Tom Lambert, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, says that Catholics (and all person of faith) must respond to the lack of mental health resources in the church. “The thing that is just so important to understand is what a difference it makes in people’s lives if we as a church are accepting and understanding. Sometimes that’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s what we are called to.”

Read the article here.

Article – The Necessity of Mental Health Ministries

The Necessity of Mental Health MinistriesPastors can help address this disconnect between need and appropriate care by preaching and speaking about mental illness with directness and compassion from the pulpit. As Megan Snell writes, “when I speak frankly about depression from the pulpit, breaking the silence of mental illness, people respond with tearful gratitude for having their own life experience finally spoken about from the place of spiritual authority in our worship spaces.”

Read the article here.

The Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (Partnership Center)

The article, Creating Community Connections for Mental Health, is on the website for The Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (Partnership Center) The Partnership Center leads the department's efforts to build and support partnerships with faith-based and community organizations in order to better serve individuals, families and communities in need.

Article – Creating Community Connections for Mental Health

Faith and community leaders are often the first point of contact when individuals and families face mental health problems or traumatic events. In fact, in times of crisis, many will turn to trusted leaders in their communities before they turn to mental health professionals. When leaders know how to respond, they become significant assets to the overall health system.

Faith and community leaders can help educate individuals and families about mental health, increasing awareness of mental health issues and making it easier for people to seek help. Community connectedness and support, like that found in faith-based and other neighborhood organizations, are also important to the long-term recovery of people living with mental illnesses.

Read the article here.

Book – America's Holy Ground: 60 Faithful Reflections on our National Parks

America's Holy Ground: 60 Faithful Reflections on our National ParksMy husband and I recently visited Bryce National Park and I took so many photos of the beauty of this place.  It touched my soul.  Authors Brad Lyons and Bruce Barkhauer set out to capture in their deeply spiritual and inspiring new national parks devotional, America’s Holy Ground: 61 Faithful Reflections on our National Parks. A summary of the book says, ”America's 60 national parks are beloved around the world for their inspiring natural beauty and unmatched diversity. They can also be places to reconnect with God and the sacred. National parks engage our five senses, but engaging a sixth sense, the sense of the holy, will transform your national park experience.”

Available on Amazon.

Postpartum Depression Resources

FREE DVD – Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression & Families of Faith

Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression & Families of FaithMental Health Ministries has a surplus of our DVD on Postpartum Depression, Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression & Families of Faith.  We are offering these DVDs at no cost for quantities of ten or more.  You will only pay for Media Mail shipping.  These DVDs are helpful for postpartum depression support groups or for congregations to give to families who may need extra support.  E-mail if you are interested in this resource.  Note the downloadable accompanying brochure description below.

About This Resource

The birth of a baby is a time of great joy. But women can also find themselves feeling overwhelmed. They may even have negative feelings toward their child that can make them feel confused and guilty. Many new mothers are ashamed to admit these feelings and think they are a "bad mother" for having such thoughts. And so they suffer in silence.

Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression and Families of Faith helps educate faith communities about postpartum depression. Background information on symptoms and treatment is provided by mental health professionals. Two women share their personal stories and how this experience affected their faith and recovery.

Suggestions for Using This Resource

The DVD is divided into segments to give group leaders the option of viewing individual segments or the entire resource. A discussion guide is included on the DVD to provide information about postpartum depression, study questions and helpful resources.

DVD Segments

Introduction (3:55 minutes)
What is Postpartum Depression? (7:32 minutes)
Diana's Story (11:24 minutes)
Toni's Story (13:06 minutes)
How Faith Communities Can Respond (7:59 minutes)

Brochure– Breaking the Silence: Postpartum Depression & Families of Faith

The “baby blues” are very common after childbirth and affect about 70 to 85 percent of all new mothers.  The “baby blues” are caused, in part, by the rapid changes in hormones within a woman’s body after giving birth.  Fatigue that comes with the healing process and the demands of caring for a new baby also contribute to “baby blues.”   Postpartum depression (PPD) is a much more serious condition with symptoms that can negatively affect the mother once her baby is born.  These symptoms can change her behavior, personality and outlook.  They also affect relationships with the father, family and friends.  This brochure offers ideas on how congregations can support new families by:

• Becoming educated about the symptoms of depression
• Help families know it is all right to discuss these issues
• Have information on appropriate community professionals
• Train “mentors” to be assigned to new families for extra support
• Provide spiritual support and assurance

Download the brochure on the MHM website.

Sign Up to Receive the 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 easily access the helpful resources.

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Snippets from Susan

The KNOT Prayer
The KNOT PrayerDear God, please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart and my life. Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind. Erase the will nots, may nots, and might nots that find a home in my heart. Release me from the could nots, would nots and should nots that obstruct my life. And most of all, Dear God, I ask that you remove from my mind, my heart and my life, ALL of the am nots that I have allowed to hold me back, especially the thought that I am not good enough. Amen



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