Membership Drive, 2015
The Mental Health Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia invites you to join us as a committee member or join us as a volunteer to the committee.
Whether you are Episcopalian or belong to another denomination, your talents, skills, and your energy will help us in our overall commitment to assist congregations in strengthening Mental Health Awareness and actively engage in reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness.
We foster a culture of dignity, respect, and inclusion so that those who cope with mental illness as well as their care givers or loved ones find compassion and loving care as well as a church community that offers encouragement and opportunities for spiritual growth.
To Achieve Change Together (ACT) our Mental Health Committee is a group that believes in purpose driven action. We welcome those who have the talents to take a leadership role in educational and pastoral care activities that promote our mission and support our goals.
Also, our committee welcomes the support and input from those who serve as “friends” of our committee and are committed to be actively engaged in promoting education and awareness in their local church communities.
The Committee, under the leadership of Marleen McCabe, Ph.D., is active in many areas. These activities are thought through in the very few in-person meetings that we have and in the many email and telephone conversations networking through Virginia and the Country. We seek to utilize modern communication and social technology to inform, educate and promote, and we are assisted by a thoughtful budget awarded by the Diocese.
Within the last few years, we have embarked on the following ongoing projects:
- A Conference on the Prevention of Suicide, “The Church and Suicide: Compassion and Response.” We video recorded the learning sessions of that conference. After the conference, we created a DVD featuring four of the speakers and developed a facilitator’s guide for adult discussion forums. The video is available by request through the Diocese Offices. By popular demand, we are re-issuing this educational program in its entirety and it will be available in January 2015. The Episcopal News Service recently reported on the issue of suicide in the Church and mentioned this educational resource.
- We have provided educational programs to members of the Episcopal Churches in Virginia. At Annual Council, we presented talks and simulations of communication with persons with mental health issues; Pastoral Care models, and discussed strategies on how to promote inclusion.
- We have researched and funded workshops in Mental Health First Aid taught by outside organizations, such as the Community Service Board. This program is available to clergy and lay pastoral caregivers and those in church leadership roles.
- We have also partnered with Community of Hope International to train volunteer lay chaplains in pastoral care. The mission of the Community of Hope is to create a Christian community of volunteer lay chaplains united in prayer, shaped by Benedictine spirituality, and equipped for pastoral care ministry. The Rule of Benedict inspires seeking balance and harmony in prayer, worship, silence, holy, reading, and serving others. Laity is equipped to minister where their spiritual gifts are best suited for giving comfort and care to those in need. Within the Diocese of VA we have three active Community of Hope Centers and several other congregations are exploring joining Community of Hope.
- We have pioneered adult education in churches about mental health issues. We have developed workshops, put together resources, both on paper and digitally, and offer these materials to the general public through this website.
- We have created a comprehensive website (www.mhcommittee.org) to provide anyone interested or struggling with mental health issues to resources, including information, professional healing support services, advocacy, and spiritual support resources. We also programmed the website to offer facilitators/trainers guidance in educating others and organizing training.
- Committee members have been vigilant in military and veteran service systems for mental health treatment and support. Information comes from professionals working in the military and veterans facilities and from a conference that focused on Post Traumatic Stress.
- We have developed a Facebook page to provide current mental health news through the Facebook social.
- We are in communication with colleagues in other countries, sharing ideas and observing action programs in stigma reduction, primarily through church delivery.
- We continue to envision what a model Diocese would be like if it lived out its commitment to the Baptismal Covenant. These visioning exercises help us to keep motivated to complete the task at hand and continue to inspire our calling to this ministry of service.
Members of the Mental Health Committee:
- Marleen McCabe, Ph.D., Chair
- Carol Frazee, MSW,
- Paul Ackerman, Ph.D.
- Joseph Lynch, MSW
Friends of the Mental Health Committee:
- Rev. Connie Clark, Buck’s Mountain Episcopal Church, Earlysville, VA
- Rev. Cathy Tibbetts, Christ Episcopal Church, Luray, VA
Staff Liaison from the Diocese of Virginia:
- Emily Cherry, Director of Communications
How do I become a member, a friend, or volunteer to the Mental Health Committee?
Becoming a Friend, Member or volunteer to the Mental Health Committee is an informal process. Please contact Marleen McCabe, Chair of the Mental Health Committee, at email@example.com or send us an email via our website at www.mhcommittee.org.
Information regarding our committee work in the past year can be accessed and reviewed through this website.
What Can the Mental Health Committee do for you and/or your Church?
Inform You: Mental health, like mental illness, is complex. It is puzzling to lay and professionals alike. It has impact not only on individuals, but all of society. Most of these impacts are negative and painful. Mental health issues obviously need attention; their neglect has cost the world countless grief, wasted lives, wars and intolerable pain. We, each individual and the Churches, can no longer ignore the fiscal , social or suffering costs of mental illness.
This website is geared to help the individual find the information he or she needs to start healing the wounds of mental illness. Although the Committee tried to include a comprehensive view of mental health and illness issues, there is attention also paid to three current mental health issues that affect quite directly the congregations and clergy of our churches.
You will find earmarked resources on Suicide, Alcoholism and Aging. Suicide and Alcoholism are threats to the individuals and society, Aging is a blessed state of existence that does not currently receive the proper mental health care it needs for the inevitable adjustments of growing older.
Inform Others: Readers are invited to browse this website fully because it has so many rich resources to help both individuals and groups. It is now, and always will be, a work in progress. Improvement suggestions and added resources are requested from any reader. In addition to the website, the Mental Health Committee maintains a Facebook presence and offers not only current information, but an opportunity for comments and discussions.
Plan: It can help you plan activities and set goals for the reduction of stigma and to initiate inclusion of persons with mental health issues in your Church. Information about and examples of this can be found in the website, and members and friends of the Committee are willing to provide assistance when needed.
Educate: Educating adults, family, friends and persons with mental health issues is a major activity to reduce stigma and start the healing process. The Mental Health Committee developed several conferences on major mental health problems in the past. Suicide, one of the most pressing issues because it is often hidden, is seen as an important topic for parish education. The committee produced a DVD of guest speakers and discussion guidelines to help churches become knowledgeable about it; it is available through the Diocese. In addition, programs for general as well as specialty mental health education are described and resources cataloged in the website. Speakers from the Committee or referred by the Committee are also available by contacting the Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advocate: Reducing stigma is vital to any Church or community who wishes to understand, welcome, and support persons with mental health issues. Unfortunately, many laws, attitudes, and stereotypes work in opposition to inclusion. The website lists many advocacy organizations and provides current information about policies and priorities needed or in process at all levels.
Find Healers: The website has referral sources for finding professional health caregivers depending on whether you are military and/or a dependent, a veteran and/or family, a civilian, or when the mental health issues are with children and families. The website also lists crises centers, hotlines, and other resources to start persons on a healing track.
Find Support: People need people. Whether in the assessment, healing, planning or community adjustment process, there are peer and professional groups to help individuals thrive in community. The website has resources to start the process of finding support groups, (some even online).