Can Churches Separate Mental Illness And Shame?

Christine Scheller lost a son to suicide six years ago. Christine is an excellent writer so be sure to follow the link to finish reading.

The thing about a conference called “The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church” is that most people there have been touched by mental illness. And most people at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, on March 28, probably felt like they were hearing their family’s story preached from the pulpit.

I just didn’t expect to hear my family’s story literally discussed.

Continue reading   HERE.

International News: Bipolar Disorder Is Not A Character Flaw


Taken from   SBS  which can be found   HERE.

When television producer Adam Boland spoke out recently about having bipolar disorder, the nation got a glimpse into what it was like to suffer from the debilitating mood disorder.

But as one psychiatrist told SBS, people who have bipolar are still stigmatised and misunderstood.

“This is not a character flaw, I think that’s how it’s been interpreted in the past – that their behaviour is due to a weakness or their immaturity,” said Professor Phil Mitchell, Head of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales.

“There’s still a lot of stigma attached to having bipolar disorder.”

Professor Mitchell said bipolar is a real condition that is no different to having diabetes or cancer.

“There’s no doubt that this is an illness that affects the brain… this is not the person’s will, they’re not manipulating others or making life difficult for others. This is a real condition that is no different to any other medical conditions.”

The day after Boland spoke out about having bipolar, Sunrise hosts David Koch and Sam Armatage were accused of making snide remarks about his condition live on air.

Koch had dismissed claims that he was getting replaced before adding that “saner heads prevailed.”

“I’ve been getting emails from people last night and on Twitter saying ‘are you going to be sacked from the show?'” Koch said. “Well no, it was 2011 from a bloke who’d moved on and saner heads prevailed.”

The hosts have since apologised for their “poor choice of words” after a huge online backlash.

It’s just one of many examples why greater awareness of bipolar disorder is perhaps needed.

“The more the public understand it, the more the stigma will reduce,” said Professor Mitchell, who is also a psychiatrist at The Black Dog Institute.

“People with bipolar are hit with a double whammy – they’re dealing with a condition that’s making them do things and think things that are different to their normal selves.

“And at the same time, they’re dealing with the stigma of having a serious mental illness like bipolar which is poorly understood which leads to discrimination in the workplace and in relationships.”

Supporting family members or friends with the disorder can be difficult but Professor Mitchell said people need to “hang in there.”

“If you have a friend or family with bipolar, recognise that they’re going to need support as much as if they were suffering from a serious infection, cancer, heart disease.

“Part of the difficulties for people with bipolar is they often feel isolated from others. Others don’t want to be with them, they feel uncomfortable.

“It’s important to hang in there. And just to recgonise that my friend or my loved one is going through something that is quite distinct from their normal selves.”

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that affects one to two per cent of Australians.

People with the illness function normally for most of their lives, but sometimes they will fluctuate between periods of overactivity (known as mania) and severe depression.

“During those times [of mania], people’s judgement is affected,” said Professor Mitchell. “They’re disinhibited, they’re more likely to spend money or give things away, they’re more likely to engage in relationships that they usually wouldn’t.”

When they experience bouts of depression, it’s more than just being sad or unhappy. Professor Mitchells said they may be profoundly slow in their thinking or movements, and may sleep a lot.

“The difficulty is during those times, they can have profound suicidal thoughts,” he added. “We know that people with bipolar disorder have a much higher rate of completed suicide than the rest of the community.”


What is the cause of bipolar disorder?

It’s a strongly inherited condition, said Professor Mitchell, so having a family history of bipolar is a good predictor of whether someone will develop the condition.

“The condition normally presents in the late teens or twenties – so it’s fairly predictable when it first begins. So if there’s a history in the family, then that needs to be closely observed.

“We know that if you have the tendency to have bipolar, then certain substances can trigger off episodes of mania or depression,” he said. “For example, if you have a family history of bipolar, then you should avoid using cannabis, methamphetamines and other illicit medications. Sometimes stress can trigger off episodes in people who are predisposed.”

He said researchers are currently looking into the genetic determinants of the disease.

Not My Will: Streams In The Desert, March 29th, 2014


Consider the lilies, how they grow    Matthew 6:28

I need oil,” said an ancient monk; so he planted an olive sapling. “Lord,” he prayed, “it needs rain that its tender roots may drink and swell. Send gentle showers.” And the Lord sent gentle showers. “Lord,” prayed the monk, “my tree needs sun. Send sun, I pray Thee.” And the sun shone, gilding the dripping clouds. “Now frost, my Lord, to brace its tissues,” cried the monk. And behold, the little tree stood sparkling with frost, but at evening it died.

Then the monk sought the cell of a brother monk, and told his strange experience. “I, too, planted a little tree,” he said, “and see! it thrives well. But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better what it needs than a man like me. I laid no condition. I fixed not ways or means. ‘Lord, send what it needs,’ I prayed, ‘storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. Thou hast made it and Thou dost know.'”

Yes, leave it with Him,
The lilies all do,
And they grow–
They grow in the rain,
And they grow in the, dew–
Yes, they grow:
They grow in the darkness, all hid in the night–
They grow in the sunshine, revealed by the light–
Still they grow.
Yes, leave it with Him
‘Tis more dear to His heart,
You will know,
Than the lilies that bloom,
Or the flowers that start
‘Neath the snow:
Whatever you need, if you seek it in prayer,
You can leave it with Him–for you are His care.

You, you know.

Praise & Worship: March 28th, 2014

Song List

1.  One Thing Remains-  Bethel Music

2.  To Those Who Wait-  Bethany Dillon

3.  By Your Side-  Tenth Avenue North

4.  Glorious-  Bryan and Katie Torwalt

5.  Your Hands-  jj Heller

6.  Praise The Lord-  Kristene Mueller

7.  I Will Love You-  Robert Pierre

8.  Oceans (Where My Feet May Fail)-  Hillsong

9. Let The Day Begin-  The Call

10.  Jesus Messiah-  Chris Tomlin

11.  Agnus Dei– Michael W. Smith











Rick Warren: Churches Must Do More to Address Mental Illness

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 60 million Americans experience a mental health condition every year – that’s one in four adults and one in ten children. People of every race, age, religion or economic status are affected. Whether we are aware of it or not, we all know someone who is living with some form of mental illness.

Nearly a year later, we are still reeling from his death. We’ve been devastated, yet not destroyed. Mental illness took our son’s life, as it did many of the 38,000 other Americans who took their lives last year, but we refuse to let his death be just another statistic. One way we can honor his life and use our grief is to help others living with a mental illness and also their families who suffer. On March 28, we are hosting a one-day event, The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church.

There are hundreds of conferences around the world by health professionals, government officials and NGO’s which address mental illness from medical, social, and policy perspectives, but the Church, with its vast network of volunteers and resources is rarely included in the discussion. What do churches have to offer to the mentally ill and their families in light of the multi-layered, complex set of issues that surround mental illness? The answer is – a lot! There are biblical, historical, and practical reasons that churches must be at the table with this issue.

First, from the Gospels, we know that Jesus cared for and ministered to mentally ill people during his ministry on earth. As Christ followers, we are compelled to continue His work today. In Christ’s name, the Church extends compassion, acceptance, and unconditional love to all who suffer from the pain of mental illness, and as his Body, we offer hope and the healing power of God’s grace.

Second, the church has been caring for the sick, both physically and mentally for 2,000 years longer than any government or agency. Most people are unaware that it was the Church that invented the idea of hospitals. For centuries the Church has been a refuge for the outcast, those on the margins, and anyone enduring societal stigma and shame.

Finally, studies have shown that when families or individuals experience the chaos caused by mental illness, the first place they typically call in a crisis is not a doctor, a law office, the school, or the police, but rather they call or go see their priest or pastor. Anyone who’s served as a receptionist for a church knows that they often are required to do triage in mental illness cases. Why is that? Because people instinctively know that churches are called by God to be places of refuge, comfort, guidance, and practical help for those who suffer.

It’s time to stand with those who are suffering.

Pastor Rick and Kay Warren lead Saddleback Church. They will co-host [a one-day event streamed live online] on March 28 to encourage individuals with mental illness and to equip family members and church leaders to care for them.

Starbucks CEO To Donate $30 Million To Support PTSD Research For Veterans


Taken from the   Huffington Post  which can be found   HERE.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is making a large donation to help U.S. veterans.

Schultz spoke to CBS Evening News on Wednesday and announced his plan to allocate most of the $30 million donation toward researching solutions to brain trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD affects between 11 and 20 percent of military members who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Schultz told CBS that veterans often don’t get the treatment or understanding they need and deserve.

“The truth of the matter is, and I say this with respect, more often than not, the government does a very — a much better job of sending people to war than they do bringing them home, ” he stated. “They’re coming home to an American public that really doesn’t understand and never embraced, what these people have done.”

Schultz has shown support for troops in the past. Last year, Starbucks announced its initiative to hire 10,000 veterans and spouses of active military in five years.

The unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans dropped to 9.0 percent last year, down from 9.9 percent the year before, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number is about 1.6 percentage points above the civilian population.

The Reinvention Of Rene Syler

Taken from  Hope to Cope  which can be found  HERE.

As co-anchor of The Early Show (as the CBS morning program was known for years), René Syler was at the top of the TV game. The first African-American woman to host a network news program, she spent her high-pressure workdays interviewing high-profile guests such as former President Bill Clinton and actor Will Smith.

Evenings found her contentedly heading out of New York City to the Westchester County home she shares with her husband, media executive Buff Parham, and their two children.

Then, in December 2006, Syler was let go from her job on The Early Show—just as she was about to undergo a preventive mastectomy. She was 43.

Syler had already weathered a couple of difficult years agonizing about her mammogram results, family health history, and the seemingly inevitable onset of breast cancer. Finding herself adrift professionally sent her into a tailspin.

“In retrospect, I had lived a pretty charmed life from my birth to age 42,” Syler says. “I had always been very driven, and had accomplished a lot.”

Having her first book published was a bright break in the dark clouds Good-Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting came out in 2007, a few months after her surgery—but as time went on good news seemed scarcer and scarcer.

After climbing to the pinnacle of success, she discovered that finding a new job in the ultra-competitive world of broadcast journalism was even harder in mid-life. Opportunity after opportunity fizzled out, until Syler felt her purgatory would never end. At one point, as an added indignity, all her hair fell out after a visit to the hairdresser to have it chemically relaxed.

In the face of repeated disappointments and rejection, depression took root in her mind and body.

“There were days when I’d drive the kids to school and then return home and go back to bed,” Syler says. “I kept waiting for someone to save me, but what I didn’t realize then, was that I had to save myself.”

In November 2008, a bout of asthmatic bronchitis landed Syler in the hospital. When her doctor asked how she was feeling, Syler answered in tears.

“I told my doctor how I couldn’t seem to see my way out of the depression, and how I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning,” Syler says.

The doctor prescribed an antidepressant, which took the edge off her symptoms and gave her the respite she needed to reassess her views of herself and her future.

Perhaps most importantly for her mental health, Syler learned to embrace her own advice and cut herself some slack. The premise of Good-Enough Mother is that women need to let go of their unattainable ideals, figure out what works for their individual families, and practice self-care in order to care for others.

“I think there is value in the struggle that I went through,” Syler says. “I’m no longer interested in painting a rosy picture all of the time. I realize I’m allowed to have feelings.”

She had to redefine the meaning of success, both in terms of her career and her self-image.

“I try to do as much as I can in my life, but not to try to do everything perfectly,” she says. “I see so many women striving to be perfect, and then feeling depressed when they fall short. I think the most important thing we can do is to take a deep breath and focus on the things in life that really matter.”

For Syler, that includes her husband, her teenage children, and her beloved yellow Labrador retriever, Olivia. All of them served to motivate her when she was feeling down. Her dog needed walks, her children needed their mother. Wanting to be there for them forced Syler to get up each morning, and ultimately face her own challenges.

“I learned that even the strongest people get beat up and I made it my mantra to get through each day one step at a time,” Syler says. “Rather than trying to take on too much, I broke things down into manageable chunks.”

As it became more and more obvious that her path forward didn’t lie in traditional television, Syler looked to online options. In 2010, she rebuilt her book’s website, got serious about blogging, and converted a closet in her home to record videos to post.

She began to take a stand on current events and issues that affect parents. Before long, the site was attracting more than 50,000 visitors a month.

Syler says taking back control of her career was empowering. As part of re-establishing herself, she envisioned her life as a pond and realized that the more fishing poles she put into the pond, the better her chances of landing a fish.

“My first pole was carving out content for my website,” she says. “This was something that no one else could take away from me.”

And with each fish she landed, other nibbles followed. Because of a blog she wrote about theme parks, Syler was invited to be the keynote speaker at Walt Disney World’s annual Social Media Moms Conference in 2011. That led to a profile in an online magazine about her self-reinvention. That came to the notice of executives at the Live Well Network, a digital channel of the Disney-ABC Television Group, who approached Syler about hosting a new show. For Sweet Retreats, Syler travels the country to feature vacation destinations.

“I found you gain the most when you have nothing to lose, when there is nowhere to go but up,” Syler says. “It’s possible to rebuild after rocky times, but you must let your passion guide you, and surround yourself with others who support you. Most of all, understand no one will believe in you as much as you believe in yourself.”

What a difference seven years makes. In addition to Sweet Retreats, Syler is back in front of the cameras as a co-host of Exhale, a talk show on Magic Johnson’s new network. She is a popular motivational speaker, a tireless breast cancer advocate, and continues to grow her Good Enough Mother brand.

“I never thought I’d ever be in this place I am today since I never saw myself doing anything other than anchoring the news,” says Syler, who turns 51 on February 17. “I lost my job, I lost my breasts, I lost my hair, and I fought depression, but in losing all of those things, I also found myself.”

René Syler’s tips

Kick fear to the curb. Syler has learned to challenge the phantoms that hold her back. “I’m able to recognize irrational thoughts for what they are, to realize where they are coming from, and to change my internal dialogue and challenge my fears,” she says. “When I look back at old pictures of me, the overwhelming thing I see is fear—fear of losing my job, or making people angry. Today, I’m fearless.”

Don’t fall for “Pinterest parenting.”
That’s Syler’s term for online images that project a false ideal. “For a mom who is sitting at home in sweats, covered in her baby’s vomit, looking at photos of these supposedly perfect families, it can create feelings of inadequacy,” she contends. She suggests staying away from social media when you’re feeling blue and likely to compare yourself unfavorably to others.

Take the long view. Syler has grown more accepting of the fact that life sometimes gives you a pie in the face. “The difference is I now try and look at a bad day as a bad moment and move on,” she says, “rather than letting it weigh me down.”