Our faith leaders - pastors, priests and rabbis - are in a unique position to be the first line of defense when confronting mental illness. Speaking at the recent Pathways to Hope conference, Matthew S. Stanford, PhD and CEO, of Hope & Healing Center & Institute agreed, saying that people experiencing a mental health crisis are, “more likely to go to a clergy member before any other professional group.” Because of that, both Stanford and Austin Psychiatrist, Daniel Morehead MD, believe that religion and spirituality, can and should be part of a treatment plan (where appropriate) for those that struggle with mental health issues. What follows are some practical questions and responses about how that might work.
There are people in our lives and communities that we assume always have it together, all of the time. From the impeccable PTA volunteers at our children’s schools, to the whip-smart presidents of the companies where we work, to the wise leaders in our local faith communities – their lives often look so enviable and flawless on the outside. It’s hard to imagine that they struggle with some of the same issues our families do, especially when it comes to mental health. Over the summer, Pathways to Hope, a community collaborative conference, was held in San Antonio for mental health organizations, for those that are seeking help, and for faith leaders looking to bridge the gap between the two. Since one of conference’s aims was to help break the stigma associated with mental health issues, organizers invited Robert Emmitt, Pastor Emeritus of Community Bible Church and one of San Antonio’s most beloved faith leaders, to speak about his journey with clinical depression. He spoke about how at first, “I was ashamed to tell anyone about it. The last thing a preacher wants to get is clinical depression,” he says. “We’re not supposed to get there. We want to pray it out, sing it out, study it out, fast it out, worship it out, preach it out. Because if it happens to us, how on earth are we going to help anyone else that it’s happening to?” With the help of his loving spouse, an attentive doctor, prescription medicine, and his faith, he is now standing on the other side of the darkness and happily shares his journey. Pastor Emmitt continued, reassuring those in attendance, “Fourteen years ago I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression. And 14 years later, here I am standing in front of you with the brightest, happiest yellow shirt I can find in my closet to tell you there’s hope and there is light through it. There is life after whatever mental illness you’ve been diagnosed with.”
One in Five Minds is hosting a series of Community Conversations on Children’s Mental Health throughout San Antonio. The first one will be held August 11 at Stevens High School from 6 to 9 p.m. Attendance is free and a light meal will be served to those who register by August 5.
Why should parents attend?
As many as one in five children experience mental, emotional or behavioral problems, including ADHD, depression, mood disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder, among others. For these children, they are not just trying to get attention.
Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds was the keynote luncheon speaker at Claritycon2015 in San Antonio, Texas on June 18, 2015.
Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds reminds us that from biblical times to the present, people have experienced painful, and sometimes even tragic, events in their lives. And as agonizing as these events are, they also can lead to change and hope for others.
Deeds opened his luncheon keynote address at Claritycon2015 with one of his favorite bible stories – a story from the Book of Esther about a courageous young woman who risked her life to save her people.
“Each one of us has to be open to the notion that some circumstance of our lives – something we don’t want or are not looking for – might give us an opportunity to make a real difference in someone’s life.”
The sad part of society, according to Judge Nelson Wolff, is that we make things worse for people with mental illness.
Wolff was one of the featured speakers during a One in Five Minds press conference in recognition of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. The press conference was held in Alamo Plaza May 6, 2015.
On a positive note, Wolff shared some of the initiatives that have started in San Antonio and Bexar County in the past few years, including more treatment and less incarceration.
Clarity Child Guidance Center, sponsor of the advocacy campaign One in Five Minds, held a press conference May 6, 2015, during National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.
Steven R. Pliszka, M.D., chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, spoke at the press conference and shared the current status of children’s mental health in San Antonio.
“Today, we have about the same number of psychiatric beds for children as we did 40 years ago, despite the enormous growth in population of the city,” Pliszka said. “Many times when parents call, they hear ‘all the beds are full.’”