Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Summer 2020

Living with COVID-19

Mr. Rogers quote - look for the helpers. Understandably, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people affected by feelings of anxiety, depression and fear with the many uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are dealing with the challenges of sheltering in place especially with children and home schooling. Even as the economy gradually opens and we see a “new normal,” many will continue struggle to make ends meet without a job and possibly the loss of health care. And, sadly, many of us know of persons who have become sick or even died from this terrible virus.

I am reminded of how Mr. Rogers (Fred Rogers) explained how to find good during scary times to children. He told them, "When I was a boy and would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

One of the inspirational and hopeful parts of this pandemic, has been finding the many ways people have come together to offer help to those in need. Whether it be making and delivering food, sewing face masks, showing support for health care workers and other persons doing essential jobs that put them at more risk, checking on neighbors who you only saw in passing or using technology to maintain connections, there are so many helpers…so many caring people in our world. For these persons, we give thanks.

Seeking Racial Justice

There is more than one pandemic in our country today. In addition to fighting COVID-19, we are besieged by a pandemic of racial injustic. The tragic death of George Floyd is only the latest flare-up of this pandemic—and Mr. Floyd is only the latest victim. Over the past weeks, we have seen many examples of humanity at its worst. We have also seen the good that is possible when God’s children stand together and raise their voices in the call for justice.

The mission of Mental Health Ministries is to erase the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a statement from CEO Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., regarding recent racist incidents across the country and their impact on mental health: “The effect of racism and racial trauma on mental health is real and cannot be ignored. The disparity in access to mental health care in communities of color cannot be ignored. The inequality and lack of cultural competency in mental health treatment cannot be ignored.”

I am not able to participate in demonstrations because of the necessity to shelter at home. I want to stand up to the sin of racism in our county, but I am unsure how to do that. I found an article by written by Dr. Marcus Goodloe that offers some suggestions on where to begin. In the article, What You Can Do: A Response to George Floyd and Racial Injustice, Dr. Marcus Goodloe says, “After much prayer and reflection, I’ve arrived at a few practical steps that can be taken, particularly by non-African Americans, to help move our nation and our communities forward—steps that non-African Americans can take to be better allies to their friends and loved ones of color.” https://www.dbu.edu/news/2020/05/what-can-you-do.html In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Goodloe writes, “I invite you to pray both before and after reading these steps. In doing so, I’m confident you will hear from the Transcendent God, about how you should respond next.”

No Room for RacismIs not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke? Isaiah 58:6-14

PEW RESEARCH STUDY – Few Americans Say Their House of Worship is Open, but a Quarter Say Their Faith Has Grown Amid Pandemic

Pastor leading service in parking lotOne-quarter of U.S. adults overall (24%) say their faith has become stronger because of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 2% say their faith has become weaker. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered religious faith and worship habits. Some Americans say their religious faith has strengthened as a result of the outbreak, even as the vast majority of U.S. churchgoers report that their congregations have closed regular worship services to the public, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Americans in historically black Protestant churches and those who describe themselves as very religious are particularly likely to say their faith has strengthened.

For more information, visit the Pew Research website

Guide – Psychological Support During or Post a Disaster or Crisis

This guide was originally produced in 2011, in response to the Canterbury earthquakes by Tearfund NZ, this document has been revised to include information that is relevant to the Covid-19 global pandemic and is being used by the Tearfund Family around the world. It contains a wealth of helpful information.

Article – Ministry during a pandemic: An invitation to re-imagine ministry in our new media landscape?

Hands typing on laptopRev. Dr. Angela Gorrell writes in the Christian Citizen, “Ministry leaders who until weeks ago had not heard of Zoom, had never used Facebook Live, and had not even imagined ever needing to upload a video to YouTube are suddenly using new media to preach, to counsel, and to continue other forms of ministry work. Christian leaders are rightly overwhelmed by the myriad rapid changes that they have had to make in response to COVID-19. I imagine many are anxious to have churches filled again and for things to get back to normal—whatever normal has meant for them prior to the global pandemic that has disrupted everyone’s routines.

At the same time, I am curious about what would happen if we viewed this moment differently. What if we saw this time of disruption not as simply a time to tolerate changes to ministry, but as a divine invitation to shift our perspective on ministry in a new media landscape?”


Mental Health Ministries Becomes A Program of Pathways to Promise

Pathways to Promise LogoSummer is here and new life is in the air! Even in the midst of the worldwide Covid-19 outbreak, new developments are emerging. Mental Health Ministries has officially become a program of Pathways to Promise. Our mission statements are much the same and compliment the work of each organization. Pathways to Promise is an interfaith nonprofit committed to creating an atmosphere in the faith and mental health communities which promotes recovery from mental illness and invites people with mental illnesses to enrich the community through actively sharing their gifts and interests. Mental Health Ministries is an interfaith web-based ministry to provide educational resources to help erase the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities. Our mission is to help faith communities be caring congregations for people living with a mental illness and those who love and care for them.

Pathways to Promise team partnershipThis new partnership with Pathways to Promise provides a greater opportunity to develop and share Mental Health Ministries’ web-based print and media resources addressing faith/spirituality and mental illness. The Mental Health Ministries five step Caring Congregations Model of education, commitment, welcome, support and advocacy, will be expanded to allow for greater accessibility and ways for faith communities to begin or expand their mental health programs. We are excited about this new beginning and the opportunity it provides to be in ministry together to bring hope to all who are affected by mental illness.

Pathways to Promise

Pathways to Promise is a nonprofit organization which was founded in 1988 by fourteen faith groups and mental health organizations to facilitate the faith community’s work in reaching out to those with mental illnesses and their families.

Pathways to Promise collaborates with faith and spiritual communities to share resources that assess, educate and effect change to welcome, support and engage individuals with mental illness and those who care for them. Pathways’ offers trainings and consultations on how to organize a training collaborative, models for mental health ministry program development, helpful webinars, educational materials, assistance to lay leaders, and networking opportunities for faith groups who want to become supportive, caring communities for people living with mental illness and their families. Their signature training program is The Companionship Movement.

COMPANIONSHIP

Companionship LogoThe Model of Companionship was originally developed through the Mental Health Chaplaincy on the streets of Seattle, Washington in 1987 as a ministry outreach to individuals living in homelessness and with serious mental health issues. In 2018, Pathways to Promise and the Mental Health Chaplaincy formally joined forces to create The Companionship Movement to revitalize the model and spread it throughout the United States.

The Companionship Movement is a practice of presence. Companionship welcomes the stranger through relational engagement and is a response to the isolation or distress of another, supportive of healing and recovery. The Model of Companionship is rooted in our natural human capacity to be sensitive, compassionate, and concerned, and built upon 5 basic practices of Hospitality, Neighboring, sharing the journey Side-by-Side, Listening, and Accompaniment.

Participants attend a 4-hour Companionship Workshop designed to interactively share the knowledge, skills, and confidence to move beyond a transactional engagement and into genuine relationships with people in need. To learn more about The Companionship Movement, visit www.thecompanionshipmovement.org

Mental Health Ministries Summer Resources – Articles, Books & More

Brochures Available from Mental Health Ministries

In this uncertain time there is a great need to support persons who may be struggling with various mental health issues. Mental Health Ministries has five downloadable brochures to provide educations and suggestions for how your faith community can be helpful and supportive. Some are available in Spanish.

Anxiety Disorders: Overcoming the Fear
Transforming Psychological Trauma: How Faith Communities Can Promote Healing (in Español)
Addiction: How Congregations Can Respond
Suicide: How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Promote Healing (in Español)
Comfort from the Scriptures (in Español)

Book – Religion and Recovery from PTSD

Religion and Recovery from PTSD bookThis volume focuses on the role that religion and spirituality can play in recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other forms of trauma, including moral injury. Religious texts, from the Bible to Buddhist scriptures, have always contained passages that focus on helping those who have experienced the trauma of war. Many religions have developed psychological, social, behavioral, and spiritual ways of coping and healing that can work in tandem with clinical treatments today in assisting recovery from PTSD and moral injury.

In this book the authors review and discuss systematic research into how religion helps people cope with severe trauma, including trauma caused by natural disasters, intentional interpersonal violence, or combat experiences during war. They delve into the impact that spirituality has in both the development of and recovery from PTSD. Beyond reviewing research, they also use case vignettes throughout to illustrate the very human story of recovery from PTSD, and how religious or spiritual beliefs can both help or hinder depending on circumstance. A vital work for any mental health or religious professionals who seek to help people dealing with severe trauma and loss.

Available on Amazon.

Resource – Anabaptist Disabilities Network Mental Health Resource for Congregations

Anabaptist Disabilities Network Mental Health Resource for CongregationsTo encourage greater mental health awareness, Anabaptist Disabilities Network (ADN) has created a new Mental Health Resource for Congregations.  This resource will help congregations and others consider what we can do to nurture mental health and to care for those who experience mental illness so that we all may flourish. 

The Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (Partnership Center)

The Partnership Center LogoCenter for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives (Partnership Center) leads the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services department’s efforts to build and support partnerships with faith-based and community organizations to better serve individuals, families, and communities in need. The two resources below offer a wealth of information for faith communities during the Covid-19 crisis.

COVID-19: Recommended Preventative Practices and FAQs for Faith-based and Community Leaders - PDF
Considering Faith, Community, and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Crisis - PDF

Article – 5 Steps to Create a Mental Health Ministry

5 Steps to Create a Mental Health MinistryDr. Jermine Alberty writes in the Christian Citizen, “Talking about mental illness can be a taboo subject in the church, because people often shy away from what they don’t understand or deny that it even exists. However, it is imperative that the church becomes prepared to care for and love those in our community with mental health challenges.”

Article – Giving Mental Heatlh Awareness the Right Place in the Church

Giving Mental Health Awareness the Right Place in the ChurchRev. Alan R. Rudnick writes in the Christian Citizen, “On the average Sunday morning a congregant may hear a sermon on being kind to strangers or a story about Jesus from the gospels, but how many sermons have you heard on mental health or suicide? Most likely none. And yet, the national suicide rate has increased 33 percent between 1999 and 2017.”

Article – Ways of Protecting Religious Older Adults from the Consequences of COVID-19

Harold G. Koenig M.D. writes in the American Journal of Geriactric Psychiatry, “For many, this is an anxious time, especially for older adults who are those most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. This anxiety and the accompanying emotional distress by themselves are known to increase susceptibility to infection, with increasing impact due to immune function decreases with aging. Religious beliefs and practices are known to help individuals cope with times of stress, and in many studies are associated with less anxiety and greater hope, especially in older adult populations. There is also research showing that religiosity is associated with greater resistance to viral infection and lower viral load.”

Article – Ministry for Mental Health in the Black Church

Ministry for Mental Health in the Black ChurchJessica Young Brown, Ph.D. writes in the Christian Citizen, “If someone has a diagnosable mental health condition, we cannot pray it away, just as we can’t pray away a heart attack or diabetes. We pray, and then we seek the help and support we need.”

Book – Making SPACE at the Well: Mental Health and the Church

Making Space at the Well: Mental Health and the Church bookBeginning with the biblical motif of going to the village well for the waters that sustain life and exploring the communal significance of that well, pastor, professor, and clinical psychologist Jessica Young Brown calls on the Black Church to rally its historic resilience and creativity to acknowledge and engage those in its pews who are struggling with mental health concerns.

Rev. Dr. Young Brown concludes with a practical exploration of “Now What? Digging the Well and Drawing from It.” The book’s appendix features a brief primer on common mental disorders that frequently affect members of our family, neighborhood, and church.

Available on Amazon

Book – Grace is a Pre-Existing Condition: Faith, Systems and Mental Healthcare

Grace is a Pre-Existing Condition: Faith, Systems and Mental HealthcareEmerging from David Finnegan-Hosey's personal experience of living with a diagnosis deemed a preexisting condition by insurance companies, this book explores the theological and spiritual dimensions of our public discourse around mental healthcare and mental illness and finds there the transformative reality of grace.

Available on Amazon

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 sgschroed@cox.net.  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.

Someday we will look back at this moment and it will forever remind us to NEVER take little things for granted.

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Snippets from Susan

When I saw these amazing photos of trees that were determined to survive and persist despite impediments, I felt hopeful that life finds a way. There will be many changes to our daily life and challenges as we learn to live together in new ways. With perseverance and support, we will not only survive this pandemic, but will hopefully find new ways to care for and be inclusive of all God’s children.

Persistent trees growing out of rocks

 

Susan

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