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Mental Health Ministries e-Spotlight – Fall 2012
September is Recovery Month
Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 7-13
National Day of Prayer is Tuesday, October 9
National Depression Screening Day is October 11
Mental Illness Awareness Week
In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first week of October as Mental Illness
Awareness Week (MIAW). This is a wonderful opportunity to partner with community
groups in your area to raise awareness about mental illness. This e-Spotlight will include
information and resources to help you make the most of this educational opportunity to
erase the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities.
Resources on the Mental Health Ministries Home page include:
Mental Illness Awareness Week bulletin insert
National Day of Prayer ideas (PDF, English | PDF, Spanish)
National Day of Prayer Sermon Starters
What You Need to Know About Mental Illness fact sheet
The Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (PDF, English | PDF, Spanish)
September is Recovery Month: Addiction & Depression Video Clip
NAMI FaithNet has put together a toolkit of resources available at
Caring Congregations Discussion Questions
As you plan for new fall programs and look at Mental Illness Awareness Week resources,
I hope these discussion questions will help people in your congregation assess the needs
and direction for a mental health ministry. I have used them at conferences and I have
gotten feedback that they are helpful when considering where to begin.
1. What would you do if you recognized the symptoms of mental illness with a
person in your congregation?
What strengths does your congregation have that will help you to develop and
implement a mental health ministry?
3. How can your congregation be welcoming of persons with a mental illness and
provide a nurturing community where their spiritual needs can be met?
4. Who are the persons you can name to take leadership in developing a mental
health ministry.
5. What resources are available in your community for referrals and possible
collaborative efforts to educate about mental illness?
6. What are the first steps? What will you do tomorrow?
The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and
The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding is
Tuesday, October 9, 2012. This day of prayer was initiated by Angela Vickers, JD of
NAMI Florida and Gunnar Christiansen, MD of NAMI California in 2004. It has had
widespread support by individual congregations and National Faith Community Mental
Illness Networks. You can download a resource with Liturgies to use for the National
Day of Prayer on the Home page of the Mental Health Ministries website. This resource
is available in English and Spanish. Many faith communities have sponsored an
interfaith candle lighting service using a liturgy written by Carole J. Wills that is included
in this resource.
September is National Recovery Month
National Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of treatment for substance
use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of
treatment providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible.
It spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that
prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.
A free downloadable toolkit and other resources are available from SAMHSA at
Mental Health Ministries has a video show, Addiction and Depression. It shares how
addiction to alcohol and/or drugs often masks an underlying depression. The link
between addiction and depression can cause a downward spiral leading to severe health
problems, especially suicide. Three persons share their stories of addiction and
depression that end in recovery. The full show is available on the Mental Health
Ministries DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can
Respond. A short clip is available on our DVD, Mental Health Mission Moments DVD. We
also have our videos posted under Videos in the Resource section on our website. Use
this link to go directly to You Tube. atch?v=lXpM6BdagjM&feature=player_embedded
National Depression Screening Day (NDSD)
We know that persons are more likely to go to their faith leader first with mental health
problems than to mental health professionals. Yet studies show that most clergy are not
effective in providing appropriate support or referrals. There are many reasons for this.
Much of the work of Mental Health Ministries is to provide resources to educate faith
leaders and congregations about mental illness and how they can support persons and
families living with these “no fault” illnesses.
This year the National Depression Screening Day will be held on Thursday, October 11,
2012. Held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October, NDSD raises
awareness and screens people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders.
Screening for Mental Health offers National Depression Screening Day programs for the
military, colleges and universities, community-based organizations and businesses. For
more information visit the NDSD website at
The Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale is a short self-administered survey to quantify
the depressed status of a patient. There are 20 items on the scale that rate the four
common characteristics of depression: the persuasive effect, the physiological
equivalents, other disturbances, and psychomotor activities. It is available in English
and Spanish on our website.
Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale
(PDF, English | PDF, Spanish)
You can let members of your congregation know about screening sites in your area. If
we can reach persons with undetected and untreated mental disorders, we can
encourage them to seek appropriate treatment. If we talk about mental illness like any
other illness, we will help to reduce the stigma and shame associated with these brain
disorders. It is also helpful if faith leaders have the names of local mental health
professionals and organizations in order to provide appropriate referral information at
any time of the year.
Reflections on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are important holy days for the Jewish faith community.
Barbara Sloan has written what these holy days mean for her in her journey with mental
On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, G-d opens the Book of Life; on Yom Kippur,
the Day of Atonement, He seals it for the coming year. The more I look to G-d for
guidance, the better my life, scarred by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major
Depression, has become. I strive to obey G-d's commandments humbly and
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur remind me that I can't change the past, but I can look
to the future and to a better life, based on my closeness to G-d. As I prepare for these
holidays by reading, praying, thinking and most importantly, identifying and vowing to
improve my flaws, I am blessed with renewal and peace and the comfort of G-d's
everlasting love.
Barbara J. Sloan attends Chabad in Wallingford, CT. You can contact her at
[email protected]
Barbara Sloan called my attention to the JPSYCH group that does research on
Judaism and Mental Health. They have a number of evidenced based academic
articles available on their website at
Their most recent article is Jewish Spirituality, Depression and Health. Are the
effects of Jewish spirituality on depression and health a function of belief, practice
or both? Is it enough to believe without actually engaging in religious practice?
Conversely, can religious practice without faith be of help?
Comment From JPSYCH: We explored these fundamental questions in a scientific
manuscript - now in press at the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine. We
proposed that core beliefs about God can activate the use of religious behaviors in
times of distress, which in turn impact psychological and physical health. Through
the use of mediation and moderation analyses, we found support for our
proposition to the exclusion of other relationships. These results suggest that both
belief and practice are integral to health, but in different ways. Specifically,
spiritual beliefs are important in that they facilitate action, but action is the driving
force in providing psychological and health benefits. Please visit our Publications
page for more information about this study.
New Book: Letters to a Steadfast Tree
Kitt Reidy is a Quaker, artist, writer, photographer and a person who lives with bipolar
disorder and PTSD. In her book, Letters to a Steadfast Tree, Divinity tells Lucy (the tree
at Friends Psychiatric Hospital) how the spiritual journey of a woman became entangled
with mental illness. A Kindle copy of this book is available at Kitt has a blog with the same name. She writes, “I
feel led to share truths about mental illness, faith, and community through storytelling
and artwork. This blog is one platform for sharing my stories.”
Articles from Duke University Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health
The August issue of Crossroads has several research studies on mental illness and
spirituality. The Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health is part of the Duke
University Center for Aging and Human Development. Crossroads is a publication of
Duke University's Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.
The Effect of Prayer on Depression and Anxiety
Religion and Suicidal Ideations Among Blacks in the United States
Religious Songs, Coping and Mental Health in African Americans
Religious vs. Conventional Psychotherapy for Depression in the Mentally Ill
Articles can be found at
Newsletter Aug 2012.pdf
Article: How I Found Ecstasy in Depression
Tom Wootton with Bipolar Advantage has written an article for Psychology Today called
How I Found Ecstasy In Depression. You can read the article at
Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond
The resource/study guide, Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can
Respond, is available in English and Spanish. It is available as a free, downloadable
resource on the Mental Health Ministries Home page.
Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond is a two DVD set
to help educate faith communities about various mental health issues. One in four
families sitting in our pews has a family member dealing with a mental illness. Yet many
are suffering in silence. Through education, we can erase the stigma associated with
these "no fault" illnesses and provide congregations with examples of how they can
become supportive and caring communities for individuals and families affected by
mental illness.
These eight shows cover a variety of mental health issues. Professionals provide
important information about each illness. But mostly you will hear from real people who
live with these brain disorders. Each segment presents an issue related to the experience
of mental illness, puts a face to the issue and offers a message of hope. The shows are
short enough to be used in a variety of settings including classes and small groups. Each
segment has a discussion guide with background information, questions for discussion
and where to find additional resources. For more information go to Mental Illness and
Families of Faith.
“Like” Mental Health Ministries on Facebook
Snippets from Susan
It was one of those unexpected creative moments when I felt like I had to get my ideas
down before they were gone. My thoughts poured out through my fingers to the
keyboard in front of me. And then it happened! My computer crashed. A major crash!
I was overcome with feelings of panic, helplessness, lack of control and the inability to
do anything about my situation. I felt the loss of the technology that we have come to
depend on to connect us to our world and, more importantly, to other people.
The word “crash” means so many things in our daily crash, the stock
market crashes, breakable objects crash, waves crash, we crash at people’s houses for
the night. My crash with technology triggered memories of those times when I have
crashed emotionally…times when I felt totally disconnected with all that was
familiar…times when I felt helpless and hopeless to find my way out of a very dark place.
The gift comes when we are able to reach out to others in our times of need. I am
blessed that my son is a “techie” and was able to recover most of my information from
my hard drive. Times of crisis can also be opportunities to make changes. I made the
move from a PC to a Mac! The transition has been time consuming and frustrating with
more trips to the Genius Bar at the Apple store than I care to count. But I am excited
about the creative possibilities.
My personal emotional “crash” forced me to learn new ways of coping with my illness
and to learn a new “operating system” for my life. My old computer is now an expensive
paperweight. But it is also a reminder that, while change can be difficult, with the help
of others we can move toward new life and new possibilities.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
NAMI National FaithNet Advisory Group
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119