Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight Spring 2020

Mental Health and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Let Your Faith Be Bigger Than Your FearThe 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 cancelations 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. 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 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Listen to and follow your local public health care provider expectations.
  • 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 Cornavirus:

Article – 10 Guidelines for Pastoral Care During the Coronavirus Outbreak

10 Guidelines for Pastoral Care During the CoronavirusThis article by The Christian 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.

May is Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month. Mental Health Month was created over 50 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness for all by Mental Health America. There are now designated times in May for groups to raise awareness and advocate for improvements in research, prevention and treatment on specific mental health issues. While May is designated as Mental Health Month, educating about mental health issues is important any time of the year.

Mental Health Ministries Resource Section: May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health Ministries has a section on our website, Mental Health Month, with a variety of educational and worship resources appropriate to use during May is Mental Health Month. The section includes downloadable resources created by Mental Health Ministries including three bulletin inserts or flyers.

Mental Health Sunday

CongregationMental Illness Awareness Month in May and Mental Illness Awareness Week (first week in October) are appropriate times to plan a Mental Health Sunday. But congregations are encouraged to choose a Sunday to provide education and support for members around mental health challenges any time that fits their schedule.

Other resources included in the May is Mental Health Month resource section will help congregations plan a Mental Health Sunday:

"No one should ever have to whisper anything about their lives in the church, in the faith community. Of all places, this is where we must be welcoming and embracing. This is within the power of the faith community. The faith community is the number one legitimizing force in society." (Kay Warren)



Article – Places of Worship Can Be Havens for People with Mental Health Issues

By Stephan Bedard

(PDF, English | @St. Catharine Standard)

Places of Worship Can be Havens for People With Mental HealthStephan Bedard writes, "While faith may not be directly related to a person’s mental health, places of worship have a role to play in supporting those with mental health issues.  Places of worship have not always done a good job in the area of mental health. It doesn’t have to be that way. Communities of faith can be safe places for all of us to journey through the highs and lows of mental health."

Article – Breaking the Stigma of Mental Health in the Church

Junius Dotson writes in The Upper Room, “As I began to journey through my depression, I was forced to do things differently. I had to have difficult conversations with my church leaders, sharing with them where I was emotionally and spiritually. I had to admit I was struggling. I had to be vulnerable and say, “I’ve hit a wall that is affecting my ability to lead effectively.” When they might have been disappointed in me or discouraged by their leader’s weaknesses, instead, my church leaders said, “Don’t worry about it, we’ve got you.” That was one of the first moments of vulnerability in my ministry when I had to admit where I was emotionally and spiritually. I had to publicly admit that I was human, and I will never forget the grace that met me in that space.”

Words Matter with Mental Health

By Jeremy Smith

(PDF, English | @Church and Mental Health)

Words Matter with Mental Health article by Church and Mental HealthWords matter with mental illness. Words matter with developmental disabilities. Words matter with substance misuse. This article offers examples of People-First Language. “We should acknowledge that the childhood adage ‘sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me,’ is patently untrue. Words, and the meanings with which they are imbued can achieve accuracy and relevance or they can transmit dangerous stereotypes and half-truths. They can empower or disempower, humanize or objectify, engender compassion or elicit malignant fear and hatred. Words can inspire us or deflate us, comfort us or wound us. They can bring us together or render us enemies.” William White

Article – Caring for the Caregiver

Caring for the CaregiverStefanie Hoffman writes for NAMI, Caregivers of children with mental health conditions give a lot. We spend countless hours talking to therapists or playing therapists ourselves. We attend classes and do so much research we could become honorary-degree psychiatrists. We drive our kids to their appointments. We make sure they take their medication, if they need it. We hold them when they’re scared or angry or hurting.

Self-care practices every day

• Allow Yourself to Feel
• Talk to a Professional
• Exercise
• Dig into a Hobby
• Forgive Yourself

Article – The Case for Faith in Helping Bipolar and Depression

The case for faith in helping bipolar and depressionFrom bpMagazine, The healing power of spirituality and religion may be helpful as we manage the symptoms of bipolar and depression. This article gives some reasons why.



Book – Waiting for Fitz

Waiting for Fitz book“Waiting for Fitz” by Spencer Hyde is a young adult novel about a teenage girl with OCD and her friend who has schizophrenia.  The author is a professor at Brigham Young University, and he has OCD. The novel follows a teenage girl named Addie Foster, an inpatient suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder — a disorder often referred to as OCD, which Hyde has suffered from himself. Addie befriends a boy named Fitz who is suffering from schizophrenia, Hyde said. He said he had to write from a female perspective to help distance himself from the story. The story begins like his own journey in which he was admitted as an inpatient at Johns Hopkins Hospital and started meeting with several different doctors. From there the book takes off with Addie’s own story. Waiting for Fitz is a story about life and love, forgiveness and courage, and learning what is truly worth waiting for.

Available on Amazon

Book – Trauma and Grace, Theology in a Ruptured World

Trauma + Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World - Second EditionThis substantive collection from noted scholar Serene Jones explores recent work in the field of trauma studies. Central to its overall theme is an investigation of how individual and collective violence affect one's capacity to remember, to act, and to love; how violence can challenge theological understandings of grace; and even how the traumatic experience of Jesus' death is remembered. Jones focuses on the long-term effects of collective violence on abuse survivors, war veterans, and marginalized populations and the discrete ways in which grace and redemption may be exhibited in each context.

Available at Cokesbury

Book – Christian Mental Health: From the Pit of Fear and Darkness to Love and Light

This book can be helpful to Christians whose struggling with how to deal with anxious, worrisome, or fearful thoughts. John Patrick developed G.A.D (generalized anxiety disorder) in his mid-40‘s and became agoraphobic and housebound. Because of his mental health condition, he developed several physical illnesses. Christian Mental Health is an encouraging story of a Christian's restoration and healing experience from anxiety and depression. Patrick is a certified NAMI support group facilitator.

Available from WestBow Press

Book – Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness

Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental IllnessWhy has the church struggled in ministering to those with mental illnesses? Each day men and women diagnosed with mental disorders are told they need to pray more and turn from their sin. Mental illness is equated with demonic possession, weak faith, and generational sin. As both a church leader and a professor of psychology and behavioral sciences, Matthew S. Stanford has seen far too many mentally ill brothers and sisters damaged by well-meaning believers who respond to them out of fear or misinformation rather than grace. Grace for the Afflicted is written to educate Christians about mental illness from both biblical and scientific perspectives. Stanford presents insights into our physical and spiritual nature and discusses the appropriate role of psychology and psychiatry in the life of the believer. Describing common mental disorders, Stanford probes what science says and what the Bible says about each illness. Consistent with DSM-5 diagnoses, this revised and expanded edition is thoroughly updated with new material throughout, including eight new chapters that cover

  • bipolar disorders
  • trauma- and stressor-related disorders
  • dementia
  • cerebrovascular accidents (stroke)
  • traumatic brain injury
  • suicide
  • a holistic approach to recovery
  • mental health and the church

Available on Amazon


Mental Illness and Older Adults

Depression is not a normal part of the aging process. Everyone feels sad or “blue” from time to time. But growing older involves adjusting to life changes that often involve loss: of loved ones, of familiar routines, of physical health. Depression is the most common emotional disorder in older adults, occurring in about one in seven people over 65. The symptoms of clinical depression can be overlooked and untreated when they coincide with other medical illness and life events.

It can also be difficult to tell the difference between normal grief and clinical depression. The handout, Possible Distinctions Between Depressive Grief and Clinical Depression, may be helpful.

Brochure – Mental Illness in Older Adults: An Opportunity for Spiritual Growth

The brochure, Mental Illness in Older Adults: An Opportunity for Spiritual Growth, is available on the Home page of the website or under Brochures in the Resource section of the website

The most significant transition in the aging years is from a life of productivity in goods and services to a life valued for itself. This transitional shift invites us into the gift of aging.
James W. Ewing, Ph. D.

Video – Mental Illness and Older Adults

A video clip on Mental Illness and Older Adults is available on the Mental Health Ministries website under Resources/Video Clips and on You Tube.

Brochure – Mental Illness in Older Adults

NAMI Southern Arizona offers a helpful brochure on Mental Illness in Older Adults. The section on how faith communities can respond is especially helpful:

How Faith Communities Can Respond

Older adults are America’s only growing natural resource. Most of us can look forward to living many years after reaching the age of retirement. In the Bible, growing older is seen as the positive fulfillment of a life devoted to God. The blessings and responsibilities of aging are to be celebrated and shared with others.

Our faith communities have a unique ability to meet the needs of an aging population because many older persons have been active members of a faith community. Being a part of a caring community is a way for people to stay connected, affirmed and valued as children of God. Worship, rituals, Bible Study and prayer can help older adults address the spiritual issues of the meaning and purpose of life.

Congregations can offer a variety of services and programs to encourage ongoing spiritual growth.

  • Educate about mental illnesses in all age groups.
  • Encourage intergenerational programs that benefit persons of all ages.
  • Train visitation ministers, parish nurses and other persons in ministry to recognize the symptoms of grief, depression and other physical, material and emotional needs.
  • Provide opportunities for senior adults to share their stories and unique life experiences by involving them in the life of the community as teachers, mentors and volunteers.
  • Offer classes and groups that promote physical fitness, mental stimulation and opportunities for strengthening the spiritual life.
  • Provide specialized programs such as offering transportation to worship services and other events, being sensitive to special need s like mobility and hearing.
  • Provide meals, taking into consideration special diets, texture, taste, delivery or other special needs.
  • Address respite care for caregivers with educational programs and volunteer time-out support.
  • Consider having an outreach ministry to persons living alone or in retirement communities.


Other Resources

Video – Holding Your Center in Anxious Times

The Interfaith Network on Mental Illness hosted a presentation by Dr. Jerry Ruhl last November. We live in a time of tumultuous social, political, and psychological upheaval. Today, many people experience, in their families and faith communities, a divisiveness that triggers pervasive stress and anxiety. How are we to manage anxiety, heal moral injury, and sustain a healthy center in these times? This video can be viewed on the INMI website.

NAMI National Convention

NAMI National ConventionThe NAMI National Convention is one of the largest community gatherings of mental health advocates in the United States. This year it will be held in Atlanta, July 15-18. Each year, this convention connects and inspires people looking for resources, research, support services and recovery strategies. The theme this year is — Together Toward Tomorrow — and celebrate NAMI’s 40 years of support, education and advocacy.

NAMI FaithNet

NAMI FaithNet is an information exchange network of NAMI members friends, clergy and congregations of all faith traditions who wish to create more welcoming and supportive faith communities for persons and families touched by mental illness.

Helpful articles and resources are listed on the NAMI FaithNet web page like the article, How to Be Inclusive and Welcoming.

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  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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FacebookWe encourage you to “Like” us on our Facebook pageto get timely updates on resources, articles, and ideas of what other people are doing. We also encourage your comments, contributions and notifications about programs or events.

Snippets from Susan

An Empty Bowl

I recently visited a friend and saw a familiar bowl sitting on her shelf. Several years ago, I led a woman’s retreat on ways to open ourselves to God’s presence in our lives. I gave each woman an empty bowl to take home. At that retreat I used the image of a monk’s begging bowl. Each day a monk goes out with his empty bowl in his hands. Whatever is place in the bowl will be his nourishment for the day. I suggested keeping the bowl empty as a reminder that we need to empty or let go of things that hold us back and be open to whatever God offers.

I must admit that I had to go home and find my bowl. As I set it out on the shelf, I realized how much I needed what that bowl represented. Like many people, I have been feeling more stressed, anxious and fearful over the many troubling issues we hear about every day on the evening news. I also often feel overwhelmed by things going on in my personal life. Many of us have those things we cling to. It can be difficult to really trust the process of letting go to make room for what is to come.

I now have that bowl where I can see it every morning when I wake up. Like the monk going out with his empty bowl, I am trying to be open to what each day has to offer. And like the monk, the spiritual practice is to accept what is placed in the bowl…and be grateful. I am working to approach my days with faith, trust and an empty bowl knowing that whatever nourishment I need that day will be provided.

Empty Bowl



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