As a United Methodist Minister and a person who has struggled with depression, I started Mental Health Ministries with a vision of producing high quality resources to reduce the stigma of mental illness in our faith communities. I experienced firsthand the reluctance of our faith communities to talk about or to minister to persons with a mental illness and their families. Too often mental illness is thought of as a moral or spiritual failure rather than a treatable illness. Many persons with a mental health issue will go first to their clergy or faith leader. But studies show that many clergy are not effective in providing the support and referrals that individuals and their families need.
Helping faith communities become caring congregations is my passion. The response I receive from groups using our resources to educate about mental illness is overwhelming. I’ve had the privilege of speaking at conferences and seminars nationwide to give the message that hope and recovery are possible. When mental illness is openly discussed, people will come out of the shadows. It is my prayer that our congregations will be there to surround them with the care and compassionate support. Hope is a gift our faith communities can give to all of us who struggle with these disorders of the brain.
Mental Health Ministries was founded in 2001. Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder is appointed by the bishop of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church as the Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries. She primarily works out of her home. There is a nine member Advisory Committee. This ministry has also been designated as a permanent mission outreach of the San Carlos United Methodist Church and they act as the fiscal agent.
Mental Health Ministries has evolved into an ecumenical and interfaith outreach. It works with faith communities, advocacy groups, community organizations and mental health professionals. The focus is on using ones faith and spirituality as an important part of the recovery and treatment process and as a way for family members to find strength and hope in caring for a loved one with a mental illness.
A distinction is made between spirituality and religion to be inclusive of the many belief systems that bring comfort and hope to people. Spirituality springs from a belief system that gives meaning to our lives. It grows out of our experience rather than doctrine. Religion, on the other hand, refers to a faith community grounded in a set of beliefs, practices and a shared history such as churches, mosques, temples, etc.
Mental Health Ministries provides resources for faith communities that can be adapted to each congregation based on the needs and makeup of the worshipping community.
There is no financial support from the United Methodist Church. Tax deductible donations are gratefully accepted and will allow this ministry to continue to provide resources to help erase the stigma in our faith communities.