• Engage

    Mental Health Challenges: Remove the Stigma

    How has COVID affected you, your family, your church, your job, your neighborhood, your world? If you’re like about half of all Americans, the pandemic has taken its toll on your mental health—and if not yours, that of someone (or many someones) you love.  Various studies have revealed that about 47 percent of US adults say pandemic stress alone has had a negative effect on their mental health. That rings true, doesn’t it? Most of the public school teachers I know suspect the percentage is higher, expecting to see a pandemic of depression as young people return to school and compare notes about their lives for the past year. The pandemic has definitely…

  • Prayer Guide

    Fighting the Burden of Mental Illness Through Prayer

    Our wise, experienced family doctor asked me an unexpected question during a wellness checkup: “You live with two depressed men (my husband and my son, both of whom have been open about their struggle with depression). What are you doing to protect yourself? Depression is contagious.” I told her, “Well, actually, not long ago I got off a cruise ship with my joy-filled sister where we had five days together with nothing but fun and laughter, and it completely filled my tank.” “Great!” she nodded. You need to do that more often.” As soon as I left her office, I called my sister. “You’ll never believe what my doctor just…

  • depression and mental health

    Ministry and Mission and Mental Illness

    In the United States, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It's the time when advocacy agencies and support groups draw our attention to the indicators, treatments and challenges for the nearly 20 percent of the population impacted by mental disorders. For one month a year we are exposed to stories, facts, figures and fundraisers with the hope that we will care. However, for many families, the stories don't surface just once a year. They are written every day in desperate hearts coping with the confusion, isolation and stigma of mental illness. And many authors of these stories are sitting in the pews of your church. Did you know that? While…

  • Sparks of Redemptive Grace

    Mental Illness and the Family

    The January 2017 shooting at the Ft. Lauderdale airport is still being investigated, but what surfaced immediately in seeking a motive for Esteban Santiago’s deadly action was his family’s observations that he appeared to be fighting a mental health challenge. When he returned from military service in Iraq, he reported hearing voices and his family reported that “his mind was not right.” Totally apart from the issues Mr. Santiago is dealing with, both psychologically and legally, my heart goes out to his family. The family members of a person struggling with mental health issues carry a heavy load, often in isolation and silence, because of the stigma of shame often…

  • Engage

    God with “Skin On”

    Thanksgiving offically kicks off the “Holiday Season” and sounds of the season surround us. Decorations abound, lists begin, shopping survives Black Friday.  For many this annual season recalls warm memories and anticipates new ones. I discovered this year a family Facebook picture that included the newest member sporting a tiny tee shirt with the words “I’m New Here.” That clever line brought a smile to my face. However, for some, if not many, aspects of this season prove difficult.  Perhaps because of painful memories of seasons past or traversing a first season without a loved one gone, they struggle to enter into the celebration. It could be added stress financially…