Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Special Edition 2020

Mental Health and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Finding Different Ways of Connecting with One Another

Emoji MasksThe Coronavirus is a national emergency that has changed our lives. We are bombarded with news about this national emergency. Our daily routines are gone and many of us feel anxious and fearful. With so many closures and cancellations of places and events that have been a part of our daily life, we can feel disoriented and uncertain about the future. Our sense of community and support can be shaken. Even many of our places of worship are closed with services being offered by video. We are having to adapt to this new reality in ways that none of us could have imagined. Self-care becomes even more important. As this outbreak continues to unfold, be sure to take steps to renew your own energy and hope in the Spirit of God.

This special e-Spotlight provides some resources on Covid-19 with information on self-care, managing stress and anxiety, helpful links for more information on a variety of topics and the importance of faith and hope when living in these uncertain times.

COVID-19 Recommended Preventative Practices and FAQs for Faith-Based and Community Leaders

The Partnership Center - Center for Faith and Opportunity InititativesThe Role of Faith-based and Community Leaders
(PDF, English)

Faith-based and community leaders continue to be valuable sources of comfort and support for their members and communities during times of distress, including the growing presence of COVID-19 in different parts of the country. As such, these leaders have the unique ability to address potential concerns, fears, and anxieties regarding COVID-19. Additionally, by reiterating simple hygienic precautions and practices, these leaders can broadly promote helpful information, managing fear and stigma, and restoring a sense of calm into the lives of those in their care.

Such leaders are also poised ― through their acts of service and community relationships ― to reach vulnerable populations with essential information and assistance. These acts of service are an essential part of the safety net for the vulnerable in their communities.

World Vision – COVID-19: Guidance for Faith Communities

(PDF, English | @World Vision)

Excerpts from World Vision - As the COVID-19 virus spreads around the world, it's important that we all take responsibility for reducing the impact on our families and communities. First, this pandemic calls us to draw near to God in prayer. Second, we are called to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe by following the guidelines provided by authorized voices in order to reduce the spread of the virus and to prevent fear through misinformation. And thirdly, as World Vision we have a privileged position to engage with churches, church leaders and leaders from all faith traditions.

Faith leaders play a critical role in preparing their communities for the onset of the COVID-19 threat, in promoting healthy behavior to reduce the spread, in tackling stigma and fear and in providing practical care for the most vulnerable.

Article – Spiritual Practices for the Coronavirus Pandemic

Spiritual Practices for the Corona Pandemic provides links to spiritual practices to disarm fear and uncertainty, use while taking preventative measures, handle social distancing and quarantine, be present with illness, and sustain hope.

Mental Health Wellness Tips for Quarantine

(PDF, English)

A clinician whole name I do not know has put together an excellent list of 25 Mental Wellness Tips for Quarantine. He/she says, “I am a doctoral level Psychologist in NYS with a Psy.D. in the specialties of School and Clinical Psychology.”

Article – Nothing Feels Right About Today

Nothing Feels Right About TodayLisa LeSueur reflects on the UCC Mental Health Network, “As I paused to soak up God’s warmth, I was filled with gratitude for a new day embraced by God’s love and steadfast care. While I suspect the road ahead may be obscured by uncertainty for some time to come, I know the day will come when the fog will lift, and the road ahead will become clear again. With God at my side, I know that I will once again find the courage to take my foot off the brake and travel on my way.” 

Article – Manage Anxiety and Stress

Be Still and Know That I Am GodThe outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been stressful for all of us. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. This article from the Center for Disease Control offers some helpful information.

When the 'What-Ifs' Are Overwhelming: Three Simple Practices for Anxiety in Uncertain Times

(PDF, English | @Discover Hope)

LuAnn Roberson writes, “When life feels uncertain, it is natural to get caught up in thinking through “what-if” scenarios. When we come down with a bad case of the “what-ifs,” anxiety levels escalate, and mental energy and coping skills can quickly become ineffective. With higher anxiety, the need for simple coping strategies is essential. Perhaps the following practices from NICABM* and God’s Word will be helpful for you personally, and also for those in your sphere of influence.”

  • The first strategy is: WHAT IF…? THEN WHAT?
  • A second strategy example: ONE DAY AT A TIME!
  • A third strategy to practice: COMPASSIONATE ACTION
NAMI COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information and Resources

The NAMI HelpLine has prepared an in-depth guide with tips and resources for people who are experiencing anxiety, loneliness and other hardships due to the spread of the Coronavirus. You can share it with anyone who might be struggling or have questions about managing a mental health condition during this time.

Additional information and updates at nami.org/covid-19

If you feel in need of support and help, don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends or the NAMI HelpLine Monday through Friday from 10:00 am-6:00 pm (EDT) at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org. If you or a loved one is in crisis, you can text "NAMI" TO 741741.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers these tips for people living with mental illness.

1. For anyone who is unsure about attending therapy sessions outside the home, especially those who the CDC has described as being at higher risk, you can ask your health care provider about tele-therapy or mental health services online.
2. For anyone who is worried about access to prescribed medications, you can ask your health care provider about getting 90-day supplies vs. a 60 or 30-day supply. If this is not possible, we encourage you to refill your medications as soon as they are allowed.
3. Listen to and follow your local public health care provider expectations.
4. Provide self-care, especially if in the higher risk population as defined by the CDC. Pay attention to emerging symptoms. Reach out to family and friends

These are some links to helpful articles concerning mental health and the Coronavirus:

Article – 10 Guidelines for Pastoral Care During the Coronavirus Outbreak

This article from The Christianity Century offers 10 brief guidelines for how ministers, chaplains, counselors, and educators can accompany people pastorally through this valley of anxiety, fear, and death.

Article – Looking After Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Infectious disease outbreaks, like the current Coronavirus (Covid 19), can be scary and can affect our mental health. While it is important to stay informed, there are also many things we can do to support and manage our wellbeing during such times. This article from the Mental Health Association offers some tips to help you, your friends and your family to look after your mental health at a time when there is much discussion of potential threats to our physical health.

Article – Be the Least Anxious Person in the (Virtual) Room

Rev. Margaret Marcuson writes in the Christian Citizen: However fast COVID-19 may be spreading, the anxiety about it has spread faster and to far more people. I’m sure literally billions of people have caught the anxiety. Over a billion children have seen their schools close, and those children have parents. People of all ages are anxious about this virus.

It’s impossible to be in a climate like this and not be affected by the anxiety swirling around. What’s a leader to do? You can’t manage other people’s anxiety for them, but you can work on your own. The good news is that right now you can still be anxious and still be “the least anxious person in the room,” as Dr. Murray Bowen used to say. The room may be a virtual room right now, but the work is the same.

Child-friendly Resource to Explain Coronavirus

We need to provide spiritual psychosocial support for children. We can be present and listen to children. It is important to provide structure, routine and clarity about what is happening around them. Providing information to children in age-appropriate ways that they can understand is also important. This resource provides an explanation of the Coronavirus appropriate for young children.

Article – Managing Bipolar Symptoms: The Magic of Mindfulness

Author Stephen Propst writes for bpHope that, “Positive affirmations and practicing mindfulness can be improve your perspective and your mood.”

Brochure from MHM – Anxiety Disorders: Overcoming the Fear

A brochure from Mental Health Ministries can be used as a handout to help educate congregations about the different types of anxiety disorders and how congregations can help. Anxiety can make people feel as if no one cares and they don’t see a way forward. This may cause people to pull back from social situations…and from their faith. One of the greatest problems for those with anxiety is the lack of seeing the future as positive. A faith community can offer a vision of hope and assurance that the individual is not alone. Congregations can offer a safe, welcoming and accepting community with people who care and will listen without judgment. Practices of prayer, meditation and mindfulness can help persons calm their breathing and center their bodies in the present. View the new brochure on the MHM Website.

MHM Video – Anxiety Disorders: Overcoming the Fear

For some 23 million Americans, anxiety is more than a simple case of the nerves. Instead, it manifests in severe panic attacks that lead to fearful avoidance of certain places or situations. These fears can be as crippling as any serious physical illness. Help and hope are available.

The complete show is available on the DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith. You can watch the complete show on YouTube.

MHM Video – Overcoming Stigma, Finding Hope

All too often the term "mental illness" evokes inaccurate, stigmatizing stereotypes. Studies estimate that one-half of people with treatable mental illness do not seek help because of the stigma. Carol shares her story on how she moved beyond depression and the accompanying anxiety. Mental health professionals discuss stigma, its affects and moving beyond stigma to hope.

The complete show is available on the DVD set, Mental Illness and Families of Faith. You can watch the complete show on YouTube.

Article – How to Deal with Coronavirus If You Have OCD or Anxiety

How to deal with coronavirus if you have OCD or anxietyFor many people with anxiety and OCD, the news and well-meaning (and accurate) CDC and WHO guidelines can trigger bouts of intense anxiety and compulsive behavior. It can spark intense worries about getting coronavirus, feeling like you already have it, obsessing about what might happen if you get it, cleaning, checking, or experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety: like dizziness, breathlessness, tingling, chest pains, and more. After all, even people without OCD or anxiety are exhibiting compulsive-like behavior: buying out stores of hand sanitizer and canned goods, overstocking on masks that don't help much if you're not sick yourself.

How to Deal with Coronavirus If You Have OCD or Anxiety

Practicing Mindfulness

The Interfaith Network on Mental Illness (INMI)  offers words of Encouragements every Monday as a way to connect during this difficult time.  INMI also offers programs on relevant topics.  A recent speaker, Denise Magato, sent a list of many ideas for practicing mindfulness including exercises, practices, understandings and more.  It is available by clicking here.

Video from the Center for Anxiety

Handling Uncertainty Amidst COVID-19 with David H. Rosmarin, PhD, ABPP. View on YouTube.

Article – A Healthy Home is a Happy Home: How to Optimize Your Home for Healthy, Stress-free Living

It’s no secret that our environments influence the way we think, feel and act. Most people desire good health and for most people, their home is the environment they are most often surrounded by. Everyone deserves to a live happy, healthy life and can start by creating a home environment optimal for health. Stress reduction is the first step toward living a healthy life, because stress is a large determinant of good health. Continuous or chronic stress can cause muscle tension, headaches and migraines, heart problems, adrenal fatigue, nausea, overeating and is overall draining for your energy levels.

This blog article offers a number of suggestions on ways to make changes where you live to reduce stress and promote overall health. For example, you can relieve stress by bringing some plants into your home. A few ideas include look at reducing clutter, setting aside a place for solitude and medication, how you can make healthier choices about food and exercise and simple things like bringing some plants inside. Studies have shown that exposure to nature improves mood and reduces stress. Article available at How to Optimize Your Home for Healthy, Stress-free Living

Research Study – Benefits of Mindfulness for Combating Anxious Thoughts

Just 10 minutes of daily mindful mediation can help prevent your mind from wandering and is particularly effective if you tend to have repetitive, anxious thoughts, according to a study from the University of Waterloo. The study, which assessed the impact of meditation with 82 participants who experience anxiety, found that developing an awareness of the present moment reduced incidents of repetitive, off-task thinking, a hallmark of anxiety. The study, co-authored by Waterloo psychology professors Christine Purdon and Daniel Smilek and Harvard University’s Paul Seli, was published in Consciousness and Cognition.

Available on the bpHope website

Article – Overcoming Anxiety

An article by Robin L. Flanigan from Esperanza magazine, gives a description of the different types and degrees of anxiety disorders and offers tool and treatments that can help combat the constant worrying, irrational fears or panic attacks. No one medication or treatment will work for everyone, but she stresses the importance of accepting that you have an anxiety disorder. The article talks about Rod, a retired pastor. “Meditation is a form of acceptance,” says the pastor, who also takes a low dose of anxiety medication. “An hour after you’ve done your meditation, the same symptoms can occur, but now, instead of saying, ‘Dang it, here it comes again,’ I just tell the anxiety, ‘I’ve got to do things today that I think are important, and if you want to come along, come along.’”

Article – Bipolar & Pets: Breaking the Grip of Panic Attacks

A blog from a bphope shares how pets can be helpful when you are in the midst of a panic attack. Whether it’s a service dog or a companion animal, pets have been documented to get the attention of their owners during an anxiety episode or a panic attack and break the grip the panic has. For some, having a psychiatric dog will allow people to go out in public again with confidence. They know that if they have a severe attack, their dog will get their attention, break the spell and offer love and affection.

Caption: Molly is Susan’s “therapy dog!”

Spanish Videos from ingenium

Mental Health Ministries is so thankful to the ingenium group in Mexico for translating so many of our resources into Spanish.  For our Spanish speaking friends, ingenium offers links to dialogues with several mental health professionals who generously contributed their knowledge and wisdom to provide support to Spanish speaking families during this time that we are being asked to stay at home.  New content will be offered on their website.

Book – Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry

Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of WorryOur culture is frantic with worry. We stress over circumstances we can’t control, we talk about what’s keeping us up at night and we wring our hands over the fate of disadvantaged people all over the world, almost as if to show we care and that we have big things to care about. Worry is part of our culture, an expectation of responsible people. And sadly, Christians are no different. But we are called to live and think differently from the worried world around us. Worry is a spiritual problem, which ultimately cannot be overcome with sheer willpower–its solution is rooted entirely in who God is.

Challenging the idolatrous underpinnings of worry, former Christianity Today executive Amy Simpson encourages us to root our faith in who God is, not in our own will power. Correctly understanding the theology of worry is critical to true transformation.

Available on Amazon

Article – How to Re-Awaken Your Spirituality to Reconnect with the Natural World

How to Re-Awaken Your Spirituality to Reconnect with the Natural WorldThe key to your health and happiness may lie in how spiritual you are in your daily life. In fact, research regarding religion, spirituality, and health by Dr. Harold G. Koenig found that people who were more spiritual fared better regarding mental health over their lifetimes. While he notes that religion, medicine, and healthcare have always related to one another, Dr. Koenig suggests that in recent times society has separated those components. However, recognizing the effects of spirituality on our health and well-being is important for maintaining good health and recovering from illness.

Article available here.

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.

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Snippets from Susan

Also Highly Contagious is kindness, patience, love, enthusiasm, and a positive attitude. Don't wait to catch it from others. Be the Carrier.And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

–Kitty O’Meara

 

Susan

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