It’s hard not to read through the Bible and see the glaring impact of mental health: unresolved trauma, blatant violence, grief, suffering, sadness, longing for acceptance and belonging, oppression, infidelity… the list goes on and on. These actions can remind us of symptoms of a lot of different things. It can also remind us of our families, our relationships, generations long ago, our history, and our current systems. One thing that we can take away from this Book is a theme of imperfection, of the rawness, and of humanity crying out.
As we enter May as Mental Health Awareness month, we really shouldn’t be focusing on one month out of the year to talk about mental health; it should intersect our daily practice of caring for ourselves and our families, our friends, our coworkers, and our communities. Our wellbeing depends on the dynamic and wholistic intersection of our spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, and relational health.
The Christ we love and know calls us to love ourselves. We must heed this well. That means we have to actually love ourselves: to work as hard in organizing a support system for ourselves as we do our neighbor who is re-entering; to take care of our bodies with the same attention as our neighbor who is sick and needs us to become their medical power of attorney; to listen to the signals our mind sends telling us to rest, drink water, spend time with the Earth, learn positive coping skills, take medicine when needed, tell a friend we need help; to spend as much time fixing our lunch as we do our child’s. The call isn’t to love ourselves as our neighbors. Our Creator calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Self care is not some woo woo, feel good, spa day act of extravagance. It is vital to our survival and to those who depend on us. It is our oxygen mask on the plane. Mental health care begins by heeding the call to love ourselves. It begins with sensitively listening to our mind and somatic responses, investing in learning more about our brain and how it interacts with our body.
The overflow of loving ourselves well and our own good mental health is the ability to love our neighbors & community as ourselves. We learn to practice empathy and perspective taking (in or through whichever is best) love. In the best interest of our neighbor’s & community’s mental health, we lay down our judgment, opinions, unsolicited advice, what political sides we are on, what we think others’ lives should look like, who we think is deserving of housing, safety or love, and show up for each other with presence, support, and love.
Below are some resources we recommend to help you on this journey:
This workshop addresses trauma in youth as well as discuss secondary trauma and self-care for practitioners. Using studies of what we know about trauma in youth in school settings to learn the signs and symptoms of trauma and what we can do to assist healing. We will discuss trauma informed care and safety and the long term impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) that occur in and away from educational settings and learn how to minimize the re-traumatization of youth. The Clear Thinking Method can be used by students, caregivers, mental health and educational professionals.
Explore early childhood brain development and how it forms the foundation for future learning and how race and class play a role in accessing education that provides crucial building blocks. Learn the marks of quality early childhood education and discuss what CCD practitioners can do to ensure high quality early childhood education for children in their communities.
This interactive workshop will address those either interesting in being introduced to, or already experienced in community development work, to equip them primarily in 3 areas: 1) To update their understanding of current trends in substance use and mental health issues – with a special emphasis on the current heroin crisis; 2) to discuss the various responses to addiction and mental health, and how effective they are; and, 3) to address what might be the most effective responses based on the research from a faith perspective.
This workshop seeks to define spiritual bypassing, identify how it’s operated in our lives and ministries, unpack how it has negatively impacted mental health and spiritual health, individually and communally, and explore new ways of being with each other during times of emotional pain.
Our communities have been separated by the social distancing needs of the pandemic and slowly emerging from isolation. But we are not the same. Our bodies are marked by new levels of anxiety, fear, stress, and trauma. Yet God remains present in our bodies. How can we reimagine ways to be together as whole persons? How can we create spaces where people can share difficult embodied experiences, including grief and injustice? This workshop explores how the pandemic has affected our bodies within the Body of Christ and offers practical tips for creating rhythms of healing, rest, and resilience.