Disability Ministries Committee logo using  stylized person standing and another seated in wheelchair whose arms form the horizontal arm of the cross between them.  Logo says Making the Rough Places Smooth - Removing Barriers Is. 40_4
Fall, 2017 Vol. 7  No. 2
Four persons including Susan stand behind a Mental Health Ministries banner and two women including one in a wheelchair stand next to it with a crowd on the lawn behind them
Supporting NAMI


of the

United Methodist

 Disability Connection

Greetings in Christ!   

#GivingTuesday is on November 28! 

Your gift to Advance #3021054, DisAbility Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church, will make it possible for us to provide grants to congregations to improve accessibility and begin inclusive programs! Our Advance also allows us to provide free resources and information, as well as education, advocacy, and empowerment in many forms. 

We are currently slated to lose all committee funding next summer, so your support of our ministry is vital. See our Press Release if you are interested in learning about the changes and other ways you can help.

54 million people in the United States have a disability. Many of them do not belong to any church because they can't get in, or they do not feel welcome once they get in, or because they are not allowed to participate in the way they are called to do. The DisAbility Ministries Committee addresses these concerns and makes it possible for congregations to grow both in love and in numbers as they welcome people with disabilities to belong, believe and be loved. 

On #GivingTuesday, November 28, consider a gift to Advance #3021054 so that our work can continue and expand. 

Thank you!

In This Issue
* Committee welcomes Mental Health Ministries
* Models of Congregational Mental Health Ministries
* Susquehanna Conference Promotes Mental Health
* Better Mental Health
* Resources
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DisAbility Ministries Committee
Welcomes Mental Health Ministries
Mental Health Ministries, founded by Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder, has recently come under the United Methodist Disability umbrella to collaborate with the DisAbility Ministries Committee to find ways to include all God's children with physical and emotional  MHM logo with subtext To  Erase the Stigma of Mental Illness disabilities. To introduce our readers to Mental Health Ministries, Susan shares the following:

While serving as a pastor at a large United Methodist church in San Diego, a series of events led to severe depression and hospitalization in 1991. Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, only a few persons at church knew of my struggles. Our family suffered in silence for two years. I finally wrote an article for our church newsletter, "The Burden of Silence." This was the beginning of my passion to erase the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities.

Susan in colorful top and sweater speaks into a microphone and stands behind a lecturn with Mental Health Ministries sign Because few resources were available, I began to create print resources and videos. I wrote a book, In the Shadow of God's Wings: Grace in the Midst of Depression. After serving 13 years in the local church, I took a sabbatical leave and Mental Health Ministries was born in 2001.

The mission of Mental Health Ministries is to provide educational resources to help erase the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities and help them become Caring Congregations for persons living with a mental illness and those who care for them.  I use the Caring Congregations five step model, from a United Methodist resolution passed in 1993, to help congregations begin or expand a mental health ministry. The five steps include education, commitment, welcome, support and advocacy.

Every congregation has its own unique culture with a particular set of beliefs, values, behaviors and traditions that have emerges over a period of time. Our user-friendly media and print resources can be adapted to the meet the needs of each congregation. The Mental Health Ministries website offers a wide variety of print and media resources including bulletin inserts, articles, liturgies, training materials, inspiration, and examples of what other faith communities have done in the "It Worked For Us" section.

We offer high quality on-line video and DVD resources on mental health topics such as Cover Image for Mental Illness and Families of Faith DVD - many configurations of familes and worshippers are shown understanding depression, overcoming stigma, mental illness in different age groups, anxiety, addiction, teenage depression, suicide, eating disorders, PTSD and trauma. Each show presents an issue, puts a face to this issue and offers a message of hope. The shows are short enough to be used in varied settings including classes and small groups. We also have a Mental Health Ministries Facebook page.

We can all be seed planters to help our churches begin or expand a mental health ministry. We plant seeds in faith, and nurture and water those seeds. Some seeds take root and grow in surprising ways with a harvest we never could have imagined. I look forward to collaborating with the DisAbility Ministries Committee as we plant seeds and discover ways that God will surprise us with new possibilities for being in ministry with each other.

Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder is an Elder in the California-Pacific Annual Conference and founder and coordinator of Mental Health Ministries.

Models of Congregational Mental Health Ministries
Just as no two churches are exactly alike, no two local church mental health ministries are exactly alike. While such ministries are not yet wide-spread, congregations engaged in supporting persons with mental health struggles are blessing their members and their communities.

Ankeny First UMC is a large church in the fast-growing suburban community of Ankeny, IA. Their Mental Health Ministry was started by parish nurse Jacque Coulson. "She Logo of Ankeny Mental Health Ministry which includes a stylized sunrise believed mental health issues were the underlying problem for what she saw," explains current director Patricia George. Coulson began the ministry by using Susan Gregg-Schroeder's materials to offer workshops and training sessions in the congregation.

 The four main areas of focus for the ministry are
* providing resources to individuals and families 
* advocacy work in the congregation and community
* increasing awareness of mental health issues
* fighting against the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The Mental Health Ministry offers seminars with speakers on topics such as suicide prevention. This year's seminar is "This is My Brave," which George describes as being "like TED talks for mental illness." The ministry is not limited to their congregation.   They partner with organizations such as the  National Alliance on Mental Illness  (NAMI) and AMOS, a local non-political and justice seeking church coalition that works on a variety of issues. They have a family support group, and offer Family-to-Family, a NAMI 12 week course for family members and friends of people living with mental illness. 

West Lafayette, IN is probably best known as the home of Purdue University. Less well known, but just as vital is the caring and health ministry - InTouch Ministries - at St. Andrew UMC. According to the church website, "The mission of our InTouch Ministries is to love our neighbors through acts of caring that bring healing and health to those in need. We know that Jesus brought spiritual, emotional, and physical wholeness to the people he encountered, and we seek to do the same."

Luci and Doug Keazer have been members at St. Andrew since 2013. Not long after coming to St. Andrew, they saw a need. Keazer explains that she started the Mental Health Caring Ministry to "help others navigate the journey to find professional help and
A smiling Luci is blond and wears a black polka-dotted dress_ a more serious Doug wears a blue shirt
resources for mental health issues." The Caring Ministry, a part of InTouch Ministries, does not provide treatment or support groups. Instead a team of people with a background in and a heart for mental health ministry come alongside persons who are hurting and in need of help. St. Andrew also partners with other organizations, and helps support the city's Christian counseling center.

Jones Memorial UMC is an African-American congregation located in a historically African-American neighborhood of San Francisco, CA, and home to  Mosaic Mental Health and Wellness Ministry. Mosaic was started by Karen Combs, who has close family members with mental health needs. Combs observed others in the congregation who were Mosaic logo with white block letters_ each against different colored background tiles fit together struggling with their own issues. She relates that, "I approached our pastor, and she was able to get a grant to get us started. A ministry intern worked with me and we came up with a team that was willing to help. We developed a mission statement and began to bring programming to the church."

For their first event, they screened the Each Mind Matters: California Mental Health Movement's documentary " A New State of Mind: Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness." The movie was followed by a panel discussion with church members with lived experience of mental health issues. A member who is a school psychologist also talked about bullying and mental health in schools. Next Mosaic offered a 5-week life coaching session designed for African-American women using the book What Mama Couldn't Tell Us About Love by Brenda Lane Richardson and Brenda Wade. Mosaic also provided bulletin inserts on different topics and held worship services around the National Day of Prayer and Blue Christmas. The following year they hosted a mental health conference and a virtual day of prayer.

St. Francis in the Foothills UMC, Tucson AZ, is a fourth congregation with an active mental health ministry. Read about their ministry in the " It Worked for Us" section of the Mental Health Ministries website.

Each of these churches has a very different model for doing mental health ministry. Each is in a different setting and serves different people. What they have in common is that each has heard the call of the Lord to serve one another in love, and they have answered that call.

Contributed by Rev. Lisa Pridmore, pastor in the Mississippi Annual Conference and Support Person for the DisAbility Ministries Committee.  She represents the DisAbilitiy Ministries Committee on Pathways to Promise.  

Susquehanna Conference Promotes Mental Health
The Susquehanna Annual Conference of the UMC encompasses over 800 churches in central Pennsylvania, across counties that can be very rural. This conference is unique as Conference logo stating A Pennsylvania Conference of the UMC and showing cross and flame as well as graphic with trees_ sunrise and blue river strip below one of few with an active mental health ministry.  The conference Mental Health Ministries program is part of Health Ministries, under Mission and Outreach. 

The Susquehanna Mental Health Ministries began in 2004 when conference members advocated for a task force on mental health.  Initially every district was represented by a mix of pastors, professionals, and people who had personal experience with the mental health system. The scope of the ministry has grown over the years, but conference reorganization left the committee without members.  "I am the committee," stated chairperson Rev. Evelyn Madison, who has been on the committee since the beginning, when she was a seminary student and working in behavioral health. Rev. Madison maintains her social work license and has done stress management training within the conference. 

At the urging of the Mental Health Ministries, the Susquehanna AC designated a conference-wide Special Sunday for mental health awareness, which includes an offering taken as part of the observance.  Mental Health Ministries produces fliers and offering envelopes to advertise this Special Sunday local church offering, which now funds Mental Health First Aid training within conference boundaries.  Churches or districts can offer this specialized training at no cost to church members or themselves because of the offerings.

Mental Health First Aid logo with USA in the center of a white cross on a blue circle on a banner shaped lighter blue background The Mental Health First Aid training came to the Susquehanna AC largely due to the efforts of Sharon Engdahl.  While serving on the Mental Health Ministries committee in 2008 she looked for resources to bring to the conference.  Engdahl discovered the Mental Health First Aid program in Australia and worked to bring it to the US.  She became one of the first 100 people trained in the US to teach Mental Health First Aid.  But there was a problem.  In order to maintain her certification, Engdahl needed to teach sessions three times a year.  She approached the conference about partnering with her and they were glad to do so.  They offered to use the money collected in the Special Sunday offering to offset the cost of the training.  Now Mental Health First Aid training is offered in the Susquehanna AC four times a year in both rural and more populous settings.

Additionally, for each year's annual conference, Mental Health Ministries compiles and distributes resource packets with the dates of various observances, including the Mental Health Special Sunday.  Every year Mental Health Ministries also partners with a different group to submit a petition for the coming year's ministry.  The 2017 petition could be used as a model for other conferences. 

Mental Health Ministries is one example of how the church at the Annual Conference level can reach out to persons with mental illnesses and their families.  Perhaps one day such ministries will be more widely offered throughout the denomination so that each congregation might more fully live out its calling to minister with persons who currently suffer in silence.

Submitted by Rev. Lisa Pridmore.

Better Mental Health
In my work with Deaf and hard of hearing people, I regularly see persons who struggle with mental health issues. Whenever a person has difficulty coping or managing problems, it inevitably leads to either denial (blocking it out), internalizing the problems (with depression or anxiety/worry), or externalizing the problem (with anger outbursts or irritability). Other signs of difficulty coping can include a loss of appetite or an increase of Leo serving at a church meal appetite, increased sleeping or a sleep disturbance, and/ or turning to alcohol or drugs.  One way to tell if it is a mental health problem is the severity of the symptoms and if the symptoms continue most days for two weeks or longer. For many mental health problems, a person may need to see a counselor* in addition to seeking support from a church.

One of my clients - Monica (name changed) is a Deaf, single mom of two children who has fibromyalgia in addition to mental health issues. In trying to raise her two kids, meet financial obligations, and manage a household, she began smoking marijuana regularly as a way to cope with life's problems. She does this for instant gratification, having learned as a teenager that this was easy way to cope. What Monica didn't realize was that smoking marijuana reduced her ability to be emotionally available to and engaged with her children, which contributed to their behavioral issues.

We have worked on improved coping skills include learning to realize and accept what she can control and what she can't (think of the Serenity Prayer) and finding strength to change. Monica needed to understand that trying to be super mom is really a way of overcompensating for her divorce. Connecting with other single parents will help provide some social support, along with normalizing her circumstances. Other stress relievers include taking time to exercise, and planning things she can look forward to. Talking to the pastor or a pastoral counselor can help her and others feel supported and encouraged, and provide insight to her problems.

Another discipline I teach is writing or typing our prayers, as this technique helps us to slow down, think through, and be mindful of what we're praying for. Our faith can help us cope. Praying to the Lord assists us in a number of ways:
* Prayer gives us assurance God is involved
* Prayer keeps us hopeful
* Prayer helps us have a realistic perspective about what's in our control and what's not

Monica joined a mid-week Bible study and an adult Sunday School class she attends while her children are in their classes. She also began to see her pastor once a month for additional support. These measures helped reduce her need to smoke marijuana, and eased some of her stress.

Leo doing sign language interpreting Monica is fortunate to have found a church with a strong Deaf ministry, where ASL interpreters are available when she needs them so that the church can play a role in her recovery. Many Deaf persons may have difficulty accessing the services they need. Churches can help by maintaining a referral list of agencies and providers within their area.

* For finding behavior health treatment, go to the SAMHSA websiteOther Deaf-specific resources include   Crisis Text Line , National Domestic Violence Hotline - Deaf Services , and  Substance and Alcohol Intervention Services for the Deaf .  

Written by Rev. Leo Yates, Jr., LCPC, a provisional deacon in the Baltimore-Washington Conference appointed to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, MD.  He is consultant to the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries.

Resources available from or recommended by Mental Health Ministries:
  • Books for you or your church library - some about individual journeys, others such Book cover for Troubled Minds as Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church's Mission by Amy Simpson also share ways that faith communities can reach out
  • Video clips for class discussion or training events - these include free access to the instructional DVD series

Please check the website for additional resources, and note that the site is updated frequently.  Some of the resources are also available in Spanish.

Other Organizations: Check these websites for helpful resources:

We hope that these stories inspire you to broaden your concept of disability ministries to include persons with mental health issues and their families.  All of us need to be enfolded into the warm embrace of a loving faith community, whose members walk alongside us in our journey through life.  We would love to hear about other congregations and annual conferences with active mental health ministries, so please share your experiences with us!
DisAbility Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church 
Contact any of us through the Committee email address .