Responding to Mental Health Issues in Our Faith Communities

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Phyllis Vokey Long, LMFT

1 out of every 4 adults in America will be affected by mental illness at some point in their lifetime. 32% of churchgoers have lost a loved one to death by suicide. Domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime in the US.

As Christian women we are often seen as a safe place for people to express their pain and suffering. And we are often available with willing hearts to pray, comfort and support others with the heart of Christ. But, what about when issues shared with us involve mental illness, domestic violence, loss of a loved one by suicide or even suicidal thoughts? How do we respond?

Studies show that 59% of pastors have counseled one or more people who were eventually diagnosed with an acute mental illness. 22% of pastors agree that they are reluctant to get involved with those dealing with acute mental illness.

Mental illness has long held stigma in our faith communities. Depression and anxiety are often attributed to a “faith disorder” that can be relieved by more prayer, more Bible reading or better church attendance. Suicide and domestic violence, often associated with mental disorders, carry similar stigma and discussions around these topics maybe avoided due to lack of understanding. How will you respond?

Here are some ways we can be equipped to respond to mental health issues in our faith communities:

1.      Attend "The Time is Now! Women's Leadership Conference" on March 7, 2020 in San Diego.

·       Presented by New Day Women’s Center for Pastor's Wives, Ministry Leaders, and Lay Leaders who are ready to respond to the issues of our time!

·       An opportunity for women of influence to become equipped to respond to the issues of our time including mental illness, domestic violence and suicide prevention and loss.

·       More details below

2.     Talk about the issues

·        Treat individuals with mental illness the same way you would treat anybody with an illness.

·        Listen to their story without judgement

·        Destigmatize by bringing testimonies to group settings

·        Avoid offering spiritual platitudes like “Just give it to the Lord…”

3.      Become educated and equipped

·        NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)   has resources for both the secular and faith community including support groups, literature, and educational opportunities for faith leaders.

·        Grace Alliance offers support groups throughout San Diego County for family members as well as those with mental illness.         

·        Up2Us San Diego offers information, education and resources for mental health and suicide prevention.

·        Family Justice Center, San Diego serves victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, child abuse, and/or human trafficking.

·        Survivors of Suicide Loss supports people who have lost a loved one to suicide.

·        The Time is NOW! Women’s Leadership Conference (see below)

3.      Respond with the Love of Christ

Our faith communities need to be a safe place where we reflect the love of Christ to those who are suffering, even when we are uncomfortable with the circumstances! As women in leadership roles, whether it be in our businesses, ministries, community or family, we have influence to make a change. Listening to personal stories with acceptance and respect, sharing information and resources and, most of all, offering hope are supportive responses that make a difference!

The Time is NOW! - Women's Leadership Conference | March 7, 2020
8:30AM to 3:00PM | @ The Rock Church, San Diego 
Women's Leadership Conference March 7, 2020

Queen Esther had influence to advocate for her people in her time...Let's be ready to respond to the issues of OUR time!

This will be a Women's Leadership Conference like never before.

We are facing difficult issues in our Church body and need to know how to support and resource the people we serve in our ministries.

Join us to be Encouraged, Equipped and Refreshed!

Topics include:

·        Support for Mental Wellness in Faith Communities - Phyllis Vokey Long, LMFT, Director NDWC

·        The Journey from Mental Illness to Wellness - Jeanne Cesena

·        The Church's Response to Domestic Violence - Dr. Julie Hayden, Psy.D

·        Suicide Prevention and Loss Support - Michelle Madden, Director of Support and Prevention Programs at Survivors of Suicide Loss

·        Hope, Joy and Love - Pam Farrel, Speaker and Author

Held at The Rock Church, 2277 Rosecrans, Room 232, San Diego, CA 92106

Questions? Email Phyllis Long

About the Author

Phyllis Vokey Long, LMFT

Executive Director, New Day Women's Center

Phyllis Vokey Long has a passion for ministering to the hearts of women through God’s revelation and healing power to encourage a deep and intimate walk with Christ to live the abundant life that He intended. With a personal history of brokenness and healing, sorrow and joy, Phyllis can identify with the growing pains, challenges and victories faced in the lives of women and their families.

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