July 7, 2021
July Community of Practice

July 22, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

This July Community of Practice will include conversation to help faith communities safely reopen and build strategies to address community health concerns.
Dr. Geraldine Luna, Medical Director for the COVID-19 Initiative at the Chicago Department of Public Health, will explore how faith-based organizations can safely reopen their doors and keep the space safe after reopening.
Dr. Wilnise Jasmin, Medical Director of Behavioral Health at the Chicago Department of Public Health, will reflect on efforts to achieve equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and build trust within the community.
Topics they will address include:
  • Adapting plans, policies, and practices to safeguard our communities during reconstitution, consistent with appropriate COVID-19 guidance and recommended community mitigation measures.
  • Building trust and trustworthiness between communities and those bringing vaccinations to the communities.
  • Successful strategies for reaching vaccine-hesitant communities.
  • What we have learned about how to build stronger and lasting relationships between communities and public health in preparation for the next pandemic or natural disaster.
At the Intersection of Jubilation and Lament
By: Lori Kaufmann, chaplain educator with Advocate Aurora Health

In one sense with everything reopening and people enjoying reconnecting and doing some of the things they haven’t been able to do…it has felt a bit jubilant.

Yet during the months of COVID, there has been a great deal of loss.

The question we face now is, “How can we be jubilant, yet hold space for people as they come to terms with personal losses and communal changes?”

Lament is one of the ways we can hold space for one another to grieve.

It is a time when we can join others in their grief and sadness. In times of lament we want to feel the deep feelings, staying present to the difficulties in the here and now without jumping to answers, quick fixes and what is next.

As spiritual people, we look to various religious traditions recognizing that we need to go through the difficulties to get to the other side. The phoenix rises from the ashes, the resurrection comes after the death. What the other side will be will emerge.
Anxious to Leave the House?

If you’re anxious about returning to the office after working remotely or going out to eat without wearing a mask, you’re not alone. About half of Americans are concerned about resuming in-person interactions once the pandemic ends even if they’ve been vaccinated, according a recent survey from the American Psychological Association.

The survey found 48% of adults who’ve been vaccinated were just as anxious about returning to normal as those (46%) who haven’t received a vaccine.

“Being primarily at home this past year has led to minimal social interactions, which can feed into tendencies of social anxiety,” says Dr. Cassandra Edwards at Aurora Health Center in Waukesha, WI.

As more people become vaccinated and social distancing guidelines continue to evolve, Dr. Edwards says it’s best to evaluate what those decisions mean for you. For example, if your employer wants to re-open the office, but you’re anxious about returning in-person don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns with your manager.

“Just because shelter-in-place orders happened suddenly last year doesn’t mean your return to normal needs to be as abrupt,” Dr. Edwards said. “Be open and honest with others about your comfort level as you ease back into old routines.”

Here are some tips from Dr. Edwards to help when you’re ready to slowly dip your toes back into your pre-COVID routine:

  • Shop at the grocery store during off-peak hours or opt for carryout instead of delivery to practice being inside public places for short periods of time.
  • If you’re an introvert who thrived this past year being at home with limited in-person interactions, start small by having a friend or family member over to your house or meeting at a local park.
  • Likewise, be upfront with your family and friends if you’re nervous about resuming in-person gatherings. Tell them where and how you’re comfortable getting together.
  • If you’re back to working in the office, use your lunch break as an opportunity to get a break from being inside whether it’s eating in your car or taking a walk.
  • When you do head out of the house, try mindfulness activities like deep breathing and meditation to help decrease your stress and anxiety.
7 Tips to Help You Transition Back to Pre-Pandemic Life
Courtesy Brigham Health Hub

Make several lists to organize your thoughts. Lists might include things you will no longer have to do once it’s safe. Some examples are wearing a mask indoors and sanitizing surfaces. Think about favorite activities you used to do and want to resume. Rank those activities from easiest to hardest.

When it’s safe, resume your old activities and check them off as you accomplish them. It might feel most comfortable to make this a gradual process, beginning with those things that are easiest.

Be kind to yourself. Expect it to feel a little strange at first and rest assured that others are struggling, too. Instead of thinking, “What’s wrong with me?” reframe the judgment as “I wish this were easier, but for now it’s a struggle and I’m going to work on this every day until it gets better.”

Don’t be surprised if emotional recovery is a little like a roller coaster. We’ve all suffered losses of some type this year. The feelings of grief may hit in waves and at times seem to come out of nowhere. Some people have suffered the death of a loved one and were unable to process the loss because of the absence of rituals like funerals. They may finally have the emotional space to fully grieve.

Acknowledge that people will have different levels of comfort with reintegration. Your friends and loved ones may take longer to acclimate than you, or vice versa. Practice compassion and understanding. We’ve experienced a collective trauma and people recover at different rates.

Hold on to the pandemic-induced changes that serve you. For those people who have cultivated a new skill or perhaps reconnected with friends on Zoom, keep it going. For example, if you’ve been learning floral design online, consider signing up for an in-person class.

If you’re really struggling, talk to a mental health provider. They can help you process the fear and anxiety and devise coping strategies.
Re-Entry Anxiety: Related Reading
Upcoming Events

July 14, 10:00-11:00 a.m.

Speak Health is a youth mental health program that Advocate Aurora Health is hosting alongside 88.9 Radio Milwaukee during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month July 2021.

Speak Health exposes youth age 13-18 to behavioral health and wellness resources that can help them navigate through their emotions, then give them a practical way to express them. Students will also receive a toolkit that consists of a journal, pen, an age-appropriate resilience workbook, and a few other fidget gadgets to help alleviate stress for the event and for use going forward.

We know that accessing and understanding the root of pain and trauma is a key first step for self-healing. As Advocate Aurora Health aims to help people live well, we recognize our responsibility to design and implement innovative approaches to uplift the health of the youth we serve. We invite you and your youth to be a part of this event.

July 14, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

The Sacredness of Trauma develops trauma-responsive congregations through the lens of their scripture. We help faith communities "level the playing field" and prepare to have conversations about traumatic experiences.

We begin with the recognition of trauma as an integral part of our faith history. We help participants develop knowledge and basic skill about trauma and trauma-responsive practices in faith communities that are based on the stories of their faith.

Elizabeth Power, adjunct instructor in Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center will present.
The Tsunami of COVID-19 Complicated Grief and Loss

July 22, 1:00-2:30 p.m.

Faith leaders in professional and public grief education, bereavement, counseling and grief research have identified the coming of another pandemic wave and has called for a national strategy to address the grief complications and necessary care as a result of this oncoming tsunami of grief.

Prior to COVID-19, grievers already suffered from some form of complicated grief, loss, health anxiety, or traumatic stress. In addition to the racial climate of this country, this recent pandemic has escalated and complicated life of those who knowingly or unknowingly have been grieving any number of losses.

This workshop will engage participants and faith leaders in the exploration of, the nature, the course and impacts of COVID-19- related complicated grief, loss and ongoing psychological trauma that is coming our way.

Join the Zoom webinar:

  • Meeting ID 969 6520 8870
  • Passcode: 119023

July 27, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Topic of the Month: Living in a New Wilderness

Meets on the fourth Tuesday of the month through Oct. 26

Let’s face it. It’s been a tough year. You may be questioning what it means to be a religious and spiritual leader during times of stress and crisis. You may feel like you are being asked to walk on water, lead through a wilderness and do the impossible.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Educators from Advocate Aurora Health invite you to an opportunity to reflect on our times and what it means to be a leader. Sessions will allow you to reflect on your practice as a faith leader, get ideas and input, try something new and continue learning, feeling and moving into these issues thoughtfully and safely. This program will use the CPE model of action, reflection, and adjustment, but previous CPE experience is not required.

July 27, Aug. 3, Aug. 10, Aug. 17
10:00 a.m.-noon

In the months leading up to the 20th anniversary of September 11th, how does anti-Muslim discrimination and Islamophobia impact my community and how can I be more effective in responding to it? This free four-part virtual training course is specifically designed for educators and community leaders who are asking these questions and ready to commit to countering anti-Muslim discrimination in their communities.

Shoulder to Shoulder, along with our partners who are experts and practitioners in the field, will share up-to-date research, resources, tools, and messaging to be stronger, strategic, and more effective actors in shaping our nation toward a greater vision – where all people, no matter their religious or cultural background, are treated with fairness, dignity and respect.

This virtual training course will cover the following:

1. Understanding and Contextualizing Anti-Muslim Bigotry
2. Messaging and Communicating for Change
3. Strategies for Engagement and Change

July 27-28

Attend NAMI’s two-day virtual event dedicated to informing the mental health community with resources, research and support.

The event includes:

  • Special Panel Discussion: At the Intersection of Race, Identity and Mental Health: What's Next? with Dr. Erlanger Turner, Dr. Jacque Gray, Dr. Christina Hong Huber, Dr. Alfonso Mercado and Dr. Valerie Williams-James.
  • Special Fireside Chat with Michelle Williams, singer, songwriter and former Destiny's Child member. All NAMICon registrants will be entered into a drawing* for a chance to receive a free copy of her new book, Checking In: How Getting Real about Depression Saved My Life — and Can Save Yours.
  • Special Research Plenary with Dr. Joshua A. Gordon, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health
  • More than 30 workshop sessions in five different program tracks — view the complete listings of sessions and descriptions
  • Live Q&As with workshop presenters
  • Virtual networking opportunities with peers
  • The opportunity to earn Continuing Education Credits* at no additional cost.

Aug. 27-28

This virtual event is sponsored by NAMI San Antonio, Texas.

Goals of the event include:

  • Reduce the stigma of mental illness
  • Activate and engage faith communities to help support families and individuals living with a mental health disorder
  • Bring faith community leaders and mental health practitioners together to provide better community-wide support
  • Provide information on resources for community members
  • Promote community inclusion

Sept. 23, 6:00 p.m.

Advocate Aurora Health is sponsoring the annual Strides for Peace Race Against Gun Violence held in Chicago and virtually this year.

Register today for the 8k run, 5k run, 2 mile walk or the Tots for Peace Sprint for children ages 2 10 years old. A virtual race is also available, more details available here.

Donations can also be made separately to the Trauma Recovery Center, to support services and resources that assist survivors of intentional trauma to help end the cycle of violence. The Trauma Recovery Center’s team currently assists patients across eight counties in Illinois.