Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Winter 2021

2020 was a year we will all remember! As we enter the New Year, we see signs of hope with a vaccine for COVID-19. As we hopefully slow the spread of this virus, we look forward to safe ways to “be” with friends and family other than through virtual formats.

Unfortunately, there is another pandemic...the dramatic increase of persons experiencing mental health issues including depression, anxiety and addiction. And, as a nation we are also struggling with the impacts of deep political divisions within our country.One in 3 people in the U.S. are reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression because of COVID-19 and the economic downturn. Sadly, 20% of these individuals said they need—but haven’t received—counseling or therapy. The mental health system, from community supports to inpatient care, is overwhelmed by the number of people who need help because of this pandemic. (Source: NAMI)

With an overwhelmed mental health system and lack of funding, faith leaders are increasingly being called on to offer support, care and referrals to persons in their congregations. Mental Health Ministries has added two new sections under our Resources to make it easier to find resources on COVID-19 and Anxiety. Many of these resources have been featured in various Spotlights over the last year. But with so many people trying to deal with the effects of this virus, we have gathered these resources into sections:

Anxiety Resources: Click here
COVID-19 Resources: Click here

There is always, always something to be thankful for.

Resources for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

With the months being colder and darker and the pandemic putting additional strain on us, it's important to continue to manage mental health. You can find the full guide, "79 Resources for Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder."

Bulletin Insert – What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

With SAD, as with all chronic mental illnesses and normal holiday stress, our faith communities can be intentional about finding ways to encourage a healthy winter holiday season that focuses on our faith, our families and our friends. A bulletin insert/flyer, What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? is available on the Mental Health Ministries Home page.

Article – Sabbath, anxiety and our pastoral response

The year 2020 has certainly tested our anxiety, our testimony, and our resistance. Bringing out the best in us for a better year ahead in 2021 might spring not only from loving our neighbors as we would love ourselves, but also from the self-study of what it would take to honor the Sabbath as we have been commanded to do—not from Pharaoh, but from God.

Article at the Christian Citizen

Article – Why Religious Congregations May be Crucial to Halting the Spread of COVID-19

If ever religious and scientific communities need to join together in pursuing wholeness and healing for the world, it’s now. Many studies over the past decade show us that congregations are often the first and most trusted responders in the most vulnerable communitiesPeople are more likely to turn to their faith communities during times of anxiety and emergency. We need to use our churches, synagogues, mosques and temples to bring accurate scientific and medical information to our congregations. We need to be sure that religious leaders have accurate and up-to-date information to pass on to their congregations to slow the rate of disease spread. View the article at Religion News Service.

Resources – Faith and COVID-19 Response

COVID-19 is a global crisis that needs all communities across the world, together with governments, UN entities, and broad civil society organizations, to join forces in keeping people safe and well. As an international learning exchange, the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities offers a wide variety of interfaith resources to address faith and COVID-19.

They affirm the unique roles played by religious leaders of all faiths in influencing values, attitudes, behaviors and actions that affect the development and wellbeing of the world’s children. This initiative just launched global guidance documents for religious leaders and faith communities.

Article – Faith and Spirituality During Coronavirus

Coronavirus and COVID-19 have brought a flood of fear and uncertainty for many of us. We have a 24-hour news cycle that consumes us. We’ve been told not to leave our houses unless we must. Most of our lives are in sudden upheaval as we adjust to a “new normal” for an unforeseen amount of time.

Sometimes we don’t know where to turn for support. While this global pandemic is unique in many ways, these feelings of fear and isolation are nothing new. Many of our religious and spiritual traditions have been poised to respond to times of crisis since time immemorial.  This article provides some helpful ways to deal with grief, self-care, prayer and worship, mindfulness and other resources.

View the article at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Article – Scriptural Reflections for Mental Wellness

Author Ryan Dunn writes for the UMC, “All of us have dealt with several of these symptoms at points in life. Many of us have dealt with all of the symptoms. Obviously, the symptoms of mental health disorders aren’t unfamiliar to any of us. And yet, we still experience trepidation in talking about these symptoms as we’re dealing with them. This is especially true in the Christian church, where we display a tendency to brush aside mental health issues through invitations to “pray on it” and “turn your cares over to God.”

Such advice is a useful invitation for God’s involvement in our circumstances, but it stops short of taking mental health issues as seriously as we might take other symptoms of physical ailments. Scripturally speaking, we are never invited to hide our mental hurts from God or from sharing in community. In fact, the scriptures below encourage us to recognize that which ails us and to share our burdens with God and community.”

Books

Book –  Learning to Walk in the Dark

From the New York Times bestselling author of An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor’s Learning to Walk in the Dark provides a way to find spirituality in those times when we don’t have all the answers.

Taylor has become increasingly uncomfortable with our tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness. Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well? In Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.” She argues that we need to move away from our “solar spirituality” and ease our way into appreciating “lunar spirituality” (since, like the moon, our experience of the light waxes and wanes). Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.

With her characteristic charm and literary wisdom, Taylor is our guide through a spirituality of the nighttime, teaching us how to find our footing in times of uncertainty and giving us strength and hope to face all of life’s challenging moments.

Available on Amazon

#INTHISTOGETHER: Ministry in Times of Crisis

In a world still reeling from pandemic and in a nation confronting the persistence of racism and systemic injustice, the timely book #InThisTogether: Ministry in Times of Crisis edited by Curtis Ramsey-Lewis

  • offers the wisdom of experience from clergy and other leaders on the frontlines of spiritual care and social advocacy; and
  • proves an invaluable handbook for surviving the current crises and uncertain future with compassion, hope and resilience.

Contributors respond to questions about what we are learning during these crises about: God, our nation, ourselves, neighborliness and the church.

Available on Judson Press

Book – Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. The author, Katherine May, models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May's story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.

Available on Amazon

Book – Freedom from Worry:  28 Days of Prayer

Freedom from WorryAre you waking several times a night, obsessing over some situation you can't control? Perhaps you're anxious about your job, a strained relationship, your children, your finances, aging parents, health issues, or the state of the world.

God calls you to leave your worrying behind, Patricia Wilson reminds you in this brief book packed with helpful suggestions for letting go of your worries. Twenty-eight days of prayer can help reduce your anxiety level. Meditate on the devotions and pray the Psalms and other prayers in this practical, easy-to-use book.

Available on The Upper Room

Other Resources

Conversations for Connection from the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness

1. Certainty/Security: assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure
2. Uncertainty/Novelty: the need for the unknown, change, new stimuli
3. Significance: feeling unique, important, special or needed
4. Connection/Love: a strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something
5. Growth: an expansion of capacity, capability or understanding
6. Purpose/Contribution: a sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others

NAMI Article – Faith and Spirituality

As we learn more and more about the connections between the mind and body, it becomes clear that spirituality, religion and faith can help some individuals live well with mental health conditions. Some individuals and families turn to faith in times of crisis to help in their recovery while others find that spiritual practices help them continue to manage their mental health.

View the article here.

Sign Up to Receive the Mental Health Ministries e-Spotlight Newsletter

If you wish to be added to receive our e-Spotlight newsletter, you can sign up on the Mental Health Ministries website email Susan with your full name and email at sgschroed@cox.net.  We send out approximately 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

Resiliency and Hope
The pohutukawa tree found in New Zealand is often referred to as the New Zealand Christmas Tree as it produces a vibrant red flower and blooms well into January. There is a very special pohutukawa tree at the northern most point of the southern island of New Zealand at a place called Cape Reinga.  For the indigenous Māori people, Cape Reinga is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand.  There has been a pohutukawa tree at Reinga, clinging precariously to the edge of the cliff, for over 800 years. 

The New Zealand Christmas tree has the remarkable ability to survive even perched on rocky, precarious cliffs.  Because of this it has found an important place in New Zealand culture for its strength and beauty. It can send out aerial roots from its gray and corky trunk or branches when it needs to anchor itself in place. 

Reading about this tree caused me to think about resiliency and the need to find ways to anchor ourselves during this difficult time. There isn’t one specific strategy to use to build resilience. It’s a process of establishing connections, coping with stress, adjusting your thought process, and fostering physical and spiritual wellness. It is a highly personal journey. Our spiritual life and faith can be a way to find resiliency and to anchor ourselves in hope for new beginnings and fresh starts as we look ahead to 2021.

 

Susan

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