Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Fall 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis that the U.S. is not prepared for. Anxiety, depression, trauma and substance use are all on the rise, and huge increases in unemployment increases the risk of suicide. Social isolation, financial distress, fears about health and an uncertain future are fueling a mental health epidemic alongside the COVID-19 pandemic. With many faith communities still practicing social isolation in some form, the challenges for faith leader to provide pastoral care to families dealing with medical and mental illnesses more difficult.

Fall has many important opportunities to address mental health issues.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and National Recovery Month.

October is Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 4-10) which includes the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness, Recovery and Understanding (Tuesday, October 6), World Mental Health Day (Saturday, October 10) and the National Depression Screening Day (October 1).

Mental Health Ministries has sections under the Resource section with resources for Suicide, Addiction and Mental Illness Awareness Week to help your faith community provide education and support. Some resources are highlighted in this newsletter but you are encouraged to visit these sections of our website to find resources best suited for your needs.

September –  Resources for National Suicide Prevention Month

September is National Suicide Prevention MonthWe are living in a time of urgency: suicide is a global, leading cause of death with a staggering loss of 800,000 lives each year. To create awareness and strengthen the fight against suicide, the entire month of September is Suicide Prevention Month.

It is impossible to escape the news related to COVID-19, regardless of how much we try. The world as we have known it has changed, and we are called to change with it. We are the same people we were before this illness came into the world.  We have the same sense of self, the same loves and dislikes, the same needs and hopes and dreams and sorrows and trials and challenges. Yet, we are also changed. With these changes, we are seeing an alarming increase in suicidal ideations as well as deaths by suicide.

Our faith communities can be a place to talk openly about suicide, to provide education on recognizing the signs and symptoms and a place to offer care and support for persons touched by suicide. To help educate our faith communities about suicide, Mental Health Ministries has put together a section with a wide variety of print and media resources on spirituality/faith and suicide. These are available under the Resource list on our website.

MHM Brochure – Suicide: How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Promote Healing

The brochure, How Faith Communities Can Provide Hope and Healing, includes suicide facts and figures, risk factors and warning signs, what you can do as an individual and faith communities can promote healing. It is available as a free download on our website. It is also available in Spanish.

MHM Video – Suicide: Healing After the Death of a Loved One

The Mental Health Ministries DVD, Suicide: Healing After the Death of a Loved One features an inspirational couple who lost their son to suicide. They share the story of how their faith community supported them and how they have used their painful experience to reach out to others. You can view this video on YouTube. This show is available on the DVD, PTSD, Trauma and Suicide: Stories of Healing and Hope.

Webinar – Suicide: Prevention, Attempts & Recovery

Pathways to Promise offers webinars as part of their Leadership Forum Webinar Program. Suicide: Prevention, Attempts & Recovery is 30-minute webinar for faith communities. Webinar Speaker: AJ French, addresses these issues:

  • Identify language which invites authentic discussion about suicide prevention, attempts and recovery.
  • Recognize vulnerability to suicide.
  • Be proactive and responsive to self and others.
  • Acquire and share resources for prevention and recovery.

View the webinar here.

Videos on Suicide from the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness Resources (INMI)

INMI is a non-profit organization based in Boulder, Colorado. We are an interfaith organization, meaning we represent and welcome participation from all faith traditions, and we affirm that spirituality is an important component of recovery from mental illness.

Helpful Video Resources on Suicide

• Suicide Prevention and Intervention Video Series
~ Video 1 Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Suicide
~ Video 2 How to Tell if a Person is Considering Suicide
~ Video 3 Responding to a Suicidal Person
~ Video 4 Aftermath: Responding to Family Members After a Suicide
~ Video 5 Aftermath: Designing a Service for a Person Who Has Died by Suicide

• Download an overview of the suicide risk factors and warning signs outlined in the first video in the “Suicide Prevention and Response” video series for faith community leaders.

Video: Faith Leaders' Guide to Self-Care After a Suicide

When someone dies by suicide, faith leaders are often called upon to provide care and support to the individual’s family members, friends, and others in the community. As faith leaders help others navigate a healthy grief journey after a suicide, they may experience unique stressors and challenges that affect their own well-being. The Faith Taskforce within the Action Alliance for Suicide made a video to highlight the importance of self-care among faith leaders and shares guidance on what faith leaders can do after a suicide. View video, Faith Leaders’ Guide to Self-Care After a Suicide.

Resource: Suicide Prevention Competencies for Faith Leaders: Supporting Life Before, During and After a Suicidal Crisis

Research shows that people in suicidal crises are increasingly turning to faith leaders for help and support. This resource, informed by faith community leaders and suicide prevention experts, aims to help equip faith leaders with the capabilities needed to prevent suicide and provide care and comfort for those affected by suicide.

Resources on Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention: Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

A therapist with her patient.Faith communities are a natural setting for suicide prevention. Spiritual beliefs and practices tend to help people experience greater hope and meaning in their lives. Faith communities can also provide opportunities for developing positive relationships with others and can be an important source of support during difficult times. They can offer counseling and other support as people with mental health problems, including suicide risk, often turn to faith community leaders for help.

How Faith Communities Can Take Action
The best way to prevent suicide is to use a comprehensive approach that includes these key components: 

  • Promote emotional well-being and connectedness among members of your faith community
  • Identify people who may be at risk for suicide and assist them in getting help
  • Be prepared to respond to a suicide death and provide support to the survivors 

For a wide variety of resources, articles, books and videos, visit the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Resource Guide – The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention: A Guidebook for Faith Leaders

The Role of Faith Communities in Suicide Prevention: A Guidebook for Faith LeadersThe purpose of this interfaith guidebook is to prepare leaders of all faith communities to prevent, intervene, and respond to suicide. It provides specific suggestions and tools.

Book – The Lifesaving Church: Faith Communities and Suicide Prevention

The Lifesaving Church: Faith Communities and Suicide PreventionIs your church prepared to save lives? Every year, millions of people engage in suicidal activity, yet the Church remains largely silent around mental health and suicide prevention. Pastor and suicide survivor Rachael Keefe shares her own personal story of lifelong depression, eating disorders, and suicidality to equip congregations to recognize and respond to those suffering silently in the pew. Memoir, theological reflection, and action guide combined, each chapter concludes with a "What Your Congregation Can Do Now" section to get you started building a community of abundant life for all.

A video with more information about the book is available on YouTube.

A study guide to accompany the book is available.

Book available at Chalice Press.

September is National Recovery Month

September: National Recovery Month

MHM Brochure – Addiction: How Congregations Can Respond

Addiction: How Congregations Can RespondThe COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for people with substance use disorders and in recovery. Alcohol and drug addiction cost the U.S. economy over $600 billion every year. In 2017, 34.2 million Americans committed DUI, 21.4 million under the influence of alcohol and 12.8 million under the influence of drugs. About 20% of Americans who have depression or an anxiety disorder also have a substance use disorder. The brochure, Addiction: How Congregations Can Respond, is available in English and Spanish. (PDF, English | PDF, Español)

MHM Video – Addiction and Depression

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 and on YouTube.

Toolkit – Opioid Epidemic Practical Toolkit: Helping Faith and Community Leaders Bring Hope and Healing to Our Communities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recognizes that faith-based and community partners eagerly and willingly step in to meet the needs of their colleagues, friends and neighbors — especially during a crisis. Their toolkit equips faith communities to respond to the current opioid health crisis — complementing their compassion and local understanding with the expertise of HHS.

The Opioid Epidemic Practical Toolkit
Download our complete The Opioid Crisis Practical Toolkit: Helping Faith-based and Community Leaders Bring Hope and Healing - PDF (4th Edition) to share. 

Toolkit – National Recovery Month: Join the Voices for Recovery

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) offers a National Recovery Month (Recovery Month) toolkit to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders, and celebrate the individuals living in recovery.

Download the complete National Recovery Month Toolkit:
English (PDF | 619 KB)
Spanish (PDF | 2 MB)

Training Guide – Preventing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Course for Clergy

Preventing and Addressing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Handbook for ClergyThis handbook created by NACoA’s Clergy Education and Training Project® for SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, provides some basic information on alcoholism and addiction, the impact of parental addiction on children, facts about adolescent alcohol and drug use, and prevention strategies. It also has an appendix with handouts for use with children of alcohol and drug dependent parents. Preventing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Course for Clergy can be downloaded by clicking here.

Book – Addiction and Grace: Love and Spirituality in the Healing of Addictions

Addiction and Grace: Love and Spirituality in the Healing of AddictionsAddiction and Grace offers an inspiring and hope-filled vision for those who desire to explore the mystery of who and what they really are. May examines the "processes of attachment" that lead to addiction and describes the relationship between addiction and spiritual awareness. He also details the various addictions from which we can suffer, not only to substances like alcohol and drugs, but to work, sex, performance, responsibility, and intimacy.

Drawing on his experience as a psychiatrist working with the chemically dependent, May emphasizes that addiction represents an attempt to assert complete control over our lives. Addiction and Grace is a compassionate and wise treatment of a topic of major concern in these most addictive of times, one that can provide a critical yet hopeful guide to a place of freedom based on contemplative spirituality.

Available on Amazon.

October is Mental Illness Awareness Week

• Mental Illness Awareness Week (Oct. 4–10)
• National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding (October 6)
• National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 1)
• World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10)

Mental Illness Awareness Week – October 4-10

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is a national observance that was designated by the United States Congress and U.S. President in response to the increasing incidence of mental illness. It takes place during the first week in October. Mental Illness Awareness Week this year is Oct. 4-10.

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is an opportunity to do something to raise awareness about mental illness in your faith community or to partner with community groups in your area for an event. There is a section on the Mental Health Ministries website with resources under October Mental Illness Awareness Week.

This e-Spotlight includes 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:

The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Awareness Recovery and Understanding – October 6

The National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding has been designated as the Tuesday of Mental Illness Awareness Week. In seeking God's guidance, we can recommit ourselves to replacing misinformation, blame, fear and prejudice with truth and love to offer hope to all who are touched by mental illness.

You can download a resource with Liturgies to use for the National Day of Prayer on the Mental Health Ministries website.  This resource is available in English and Spanish

National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) – October 1

Held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October, National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) is comprised of awareness events that include an optional screening component. National Depression Screening Day began as an effort to reach individuals across the nation with important mental health education and connect them with support services. Screening is available on-line. You can take a self-screening test on the NDSD website at

World Mental Health Day – October 10

World Mental Health DayWorld Mental Health Day, supported by the United Nations is held annually on October 10 to raise public awareness about mental health issues worldwide. Mental Health is a human right. The Covid-19 crisis has brought increasing awareness to the inequities of access to mental health services. This year’s theme is Mental Health for All: Greater Investment – Greater Access.

Other Resources

Resource Guide – Compassion in Action: A Guide for Faith Communities Serving People Experiencing Mental Illness and their Caregivers

Center 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. They have just released a new resource, Compassion in Action: A Guide for Faith Communities Serving People Experiencing Mental Illness and their Caregivers. It provides seven principles as a starting point for any faith leader who wants to address mental illness.  From those principles, there is a list actions a faith community and its leadership can take to address mental illness.

Book – #INTHISTOGETHER: Ministry in Times of Crisis

#INTHISTOGETHER: Ministry in Times of CrisisEdited by Curtis Ramsey-Lewis, Judson Press has put together a collection of essays by clergy and other leaders on the frontlines of spiritual care and social advocacy. In a world still reeling from pandemic and in a nation confronting the persistence of racism and systemic injustice, this timely volume brings the wisdom of experience from clergy and other leaders on the frontlines of spiritual care and social advocacy. Contributors respond to questions about what we are learning during these crises—about God, our nation, and ourselves, questions about being the church and about being neighbors. The messages are richly diverse and compellingly relevant, offering biblical insights and prophetic exhortation as well as creative ministry ideas and reminders about self-care. An invaluable handbook for surviving the current crises and uncertain future with compassion, hope, and resilience.

Available this fall. Pre-order your copy from Judson Press.

Ministry During Pandemic – Free Resource

Ministry During Pandemic: Awareness to ImplementationA free downloadable resource from Judson Press - Chaplains and ministers are on the forefront of spiritual care ministry during pandemic. No one person or one agency will be able to meet the needs of the thousands—the millions—that are affected by pandemic. What are the threats? What are the needs? What are the spiritual issues? In this prescient book, initially developed 10 years ago and now updated in light of the current historical moment, Judson Press author and experienced chaplain Naomi Paget offers this timely resource for Ministry during Pandemic—absolutely free. Download now and learn how to increase your awareness, make preparations, and implement strategies for ministry, even (and especially) while under stay-at-home mandates and self-quarantines.

Click here for the PDF 

Article – From Changing Lives to Preaching at iPads: How Clergy are coping with the New Normal

From Religion News Service: Clergy have been forced to adjust to a “new normal” of leadership in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a crisis that was unexpected both at its start and in its continuing duration. Religion News Service spoke with leaders from different faiths and locations across the country about how their professional lives have changed in recent months and how they are coping. Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Christian faith leaders share their stories and ideas of how they are meeting the needs of their congregations.

Article – As Depression, Anxiety, Grief Spike During Pandemic and Protest, Churches Offer Hope, Mental Health Resources

From Religion News Service:As Americans deal with the impacts of the pandemic and the country’s reckoning over racism, many Christian leaders, organizations and churches are providing resources not only to care for their spiritual and physical health, but also their mental health. Pastor Van Opstal, Grace and Peace Church, the Christian Reformed church, said, “I believe that churches can do a lot to remind people that they're seen, that they’re not forgotten, especially those of us that pastor in communities where people feel afraid and forgotten.”

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  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

We are each asked to really look at our lives in this uncertain time. Some of our personal challenges may seem insignificant in light of the trials we see around us with the pandemic and a nation dealing with the persistence of racism and systemic injustice. Some of our joys are intensified, as we more deeply acknowledge the gratitude we have for the people in our lives. We are reminded of the importance of the little things that we lost in the day-to-day life before social distancing, stay-at-home orders and all the rest. We also realize how important other people are to us now that we cannot meet and hug and share experiences together. Hopefully, the lessons we have learned will stay with us, both the sorrows and the joys that touch our lives these days.

If Today Gets Difficult, Remember the smell of coffee, the way sunlight bounces off a window, the sound of your favorite person's laugh, the feeling when a song you love comes on, the color of the sky at dusk, and that we are here to take care of each other.



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