Turning Overwhelmed into an Opportunity
May is Mental Health Awareness month. I know what some of you are thinking. “Another awareness month! I can’t keep up with all of them! There are more awareness months than there are months in the year!” There’s some truth to this concern. I just saw one list of 24 different awareness months and recognition days that I’m sure doesn’t even cover the gamut. It’s easy with such a range of reminders to feel overwhelmed with staying aware of these things, let alone helping others stay aware. This is especially a challenge for faith leaders who are trying to keep congregations aware of so many things that being given 24 new things doesn’t feel very helpful. While adding 24 new acknowledgements to worship services isn’t very feasible, there remains a value to being reminded every May about mental health awareness. That value can be summarized in something a pastor recently told me about the challenge of addressing mental illness in his church. “It can be easy to ignore issues we don’t understand.”
Mental health issues are complex and sometimes hard to talk about. The most natural thing to do with complex things that are hard to talk about is to, well, not talk about them. Among the consequences of not talking about them, though, is that people of faith will be unaware of how to apply their faith to issues their faith community never addresses. Within this setting, an awareness month may be just the reminder we need to help us begin talking about something that people in our faith communities are struggling with whether we talk about it or not. There are a variety of ways to start bringing mental health awareness to your faith community. It could be publicly praying for the mental health needs of those in your congregation and community. It could be giving someone in your congregation a chance to share their story with others. It could even be hosting a workshop on the topic. Whatever it is, Mental Health Awareness month need not be the imposition of a forced fad making your life harder. It can instead be an opportunity to begin a conversation that people in your congregation are waiting to have.
David Eckert, Director of Intersect
Below are resources for the purpose of wellness, education, and service.
Black Faith and Mental Health Coalition Survey
The Black Faith and Mental Health Coalition consists of church leaders and mental health professionals who are working together to improve mental health in churches throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area. To further this objective, the coalition created a mental health survey to better understand the mental health supports that churches are currently providing, mental health topics that churches could benefit from learning more about, and mental health programs that churches would like to be equipped to offer in the future.
We invite you take the survey! It is completely anonymous and only takes about five minutes to complete. The coalition will partner with Intersect to use the information learned from the survey to identify needed mental health resources and strengthen our outreach efforts to local churches throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area.
Facing Mental Health Needs in Your Congregation
EVENT: Facing Mental Health Needs in Your Congregation
TIME: 8:00 – 10:00 am
WHERE: Univest Community Room
COST: FREE, but please RSVP below
This workshop will provide clergy and faith community members with approaches to making their congregations a welcoming and supportive space for people with mental health challenges. Particular attention will be given to public communication, relationship development, and partnering with external mental health providers.
Breakfast and networking will be held from 8:00 – 8:30 am; the presentation will begin at 8:30 am.
Keynote Speaker – Dave Eckert, Founder and Director, Intersect
Watch the video above to learn more!
Intersect: Join Our Multi-Faith Coalition
The Multi-Faith Coalition exists to cultivate trust and collaboration between people from diverse faith communities and service organizations by acting as a convener to promote dialogue and resource sharing for the common good. The coalition consists of three committees that play an important role in how we accomplish this mission, including the Resource Sharing Committee. Members of the Resource Sharing Committee actively work together to identify resources and gaps in services so that we can more effectively strengthen our collective efforts to improve the overall health of our region.
Visit our webpage to learn about how you can get involved.
Looking for a way to help those in your community?
Intersect: Community Needs Facebook Group
This Facebook group functions as a care portal for faith communities who are looking to meet local needs in Bucks and Montgomery Counties. We will post needs specific to the individuals supported by Access Services. These may include needs for relational support, material resources, and/or monetary donations. We encourage you to share this page with your family and friends. While we started this page to provide concrete service opportunities to local faith communities, we encourage any community members who are interested in giving back to join!
- What makes talking about mental health difficult in your context?
- What is one thing you can do to raise mental health awareness in your faith community?
Do you have something to contribute or a question to ask?
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