Mental health and wellness issues impact each of us in all areas of our lives to one degree or another. Sometimes, health and wellness are things we take for granted and do not pay much attention to, until things begin to feel like they are falling apart for us, our family or someone we care about.
If you are not feeling that sense of well-being, we can help.
How We Can Help You If YOU ARE experiencing a mental health issue…
Mental health issues seem to be the forbidden topic in our society even though 1 out of every 3 people will know someone with a significant mental health issue in their lifetime. Mental health issues frequently have had a negative stigma for people while physical health issues do not. This is unfortunate particularly when there is little difference between the two.
Depression, anxiety, panic, obsessive compulsive disorder, bi-polar disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia, agoraphobia and paranoia do not have to control or destroy your life. Together we can develop strategies to help you create the life you want. Do not allow the “label” or “diagnosis” to dictate to you what your life will be. We can help. Give us a call.
How We Can Help You, If SOMEONE IN YOUR FAMILY is experiencing a mental health issue…
Living with someone with a significant mental health issue can feel overwhelming at times. Needing support for yourself does not mean that you are weak or that you do not care about your partner. From time to time all of us need support along the way, particularly if we do not understand what is happening to our loved one or if we are feeling so overwhelmed that we are having difficulty coping.
So, who is affected by significant mental health issues? Not only is the individual experiencing the disorder affected, but the partners or spouses, their children, friends, family members, neighbours and people who care about the individual are also affected.
Understanding what the illness is and what it is not can be most helpful for family members; particularly when they may have been making assumptions along the way only to discover that doing something different may have been more helpful. With our experience we can be that resource for you and help you understand better what is happening for your loved one.
If you are wondering how you can be of help to your loved one, it is important to recognize that the person is not “doing” this to you. The behaviours associated with significant mental health issues are not things that someone chooses to do or a way of getting back at someone else. Significant mental health issues are medical conditions just like Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis. It’s important to remember that marriage is never a “50-50” deal and your partner may require more of your assistance at this point in their illness. Family leadership is essential and if your partner is ill, this may be the time where you “step up to the plate” and provide that leadership, particularly if there are young children in the family.
What your partner or loved one needs now is your encouragement and support to find a new way through their illness. Perhaps sharing a different perspective on a situation or reflecting your thoughts on a shared situation can be very helpful. Medication support, doctor’s visits and counselling appointments are all areas that you can be supportive. By providing opportunities for social interaction you are helping to provide a richness to the tapestry of their life. Food, exercise, sleep, and time for the individual to pursue their interests are also important factors in finding new ways of coping; however, sometimes individuals require support in order to develop these new ways of being.
If you are in need of some support, please do not hesitate to give us a call and we can work with you to develop specific strategies for your unique situation.
How We Can Help You, If YOU EMPLOY SOMEONE WHO is experiencing a mental health issue…
Significant mental health issues impact individuals from all walks of life. No one is immune. The financial impact is significant. In 2009, the annual loss to the Canadian economy was $51 billion. In one study by the Mood Disorder Society of Canada, 56% of Canadians report being worried about depression. Of all short-term disability claims in Canada in 2009, 75% were related to mental illness. Of all long-term disability claims during the samperiod, 82% were related to mental illness. Depression is the fastest growing category of disability costs to Canadian employers.
Here’s where we can be of assistance to you as an employer. If you have a management team needing a better understanding of mental health issues, prevention, coping with a team member with a mental health issue, strategies for helping the individual and appropriate expectations to put in place, give us a call. We will come to your workplace and provide workshops tailor made to your unique situation so that your staff have the resources they require to continue working efficiently.
How We Can Help You, If YOU ARE THE PASTOR OF SOMEONE WHO is experiencing a mental health issue…
Mental health concerns affect all congregations and parishes. This is one category of illness that knows “no bounds” when it comes to who is affected. If you have someone in your congregation with a mental health issue, this has the potential to be a significant drain on your time and energy.
If you yourself are experiencing a significant mental health issue, give us a call. Working with executives, leaders and pastors are our area of expertise. You are NOT alone and you and your family may require some supports that your congregation are unable to provide you at this point in your career. We do not believe that God intends us to be “islands” in ministry. We are here to confidentially help you through this difficult time.
Depending on what your own personal experience has been with mental health concerns, you might be wondering what depression really is? Depression is not just having a bad day, feeling a little sad or grieving a loss in their life. Depression is a physical illness just like high blood pressure or diabetes. It appears to run in families and is NOT the result of personal weakness, it is NOT because the person’s spiritual walk is weak and they cannot “get over it” by wishing it away. Depression is an experience of intense feelings of sadness and worthlessness. There appears to be significant shifts in everyday activities – so bad that the individual may have lost interest in life. Adults, children, teens and seniors can all be affected by depression; however, there is hope and life can look brighter. Approximately 1 out of every 4 Canadians will experience depression throughout their lifetime. More women than men tend to seek help; however, that does not mean that more women are depressed. It means that men tend not to seek the help at the same rate.
In one study in 2009 by the Mood Disorders Society of Canada, 70 – 90% of individuals with a serious mental illness are unemployed. This will then have a significant impact on the individual, the family and their extended family from a financial standpoint. Therefore, linking this family up with local supports like the food bank, community centre out reach workers and other community supports will be vital.
It is important to remember that the ill person is not choosing to “do this” to their family or to you. Depression is not something that someone chooses to do or a way of getting back at someone else. It is a medical condition just like diabetes, Parkinson’s disease or cancer.
Frequently, pastors ask us how they can assist families at times where the illness may be part of their experience. The following are areas where you can be a crucial resource by reminding your congregants that:
- Marriage Isn’t a 50-50 Deal. There are times where each partner needs to take on more than what they might perceive as being their responsibility in the relationship. It is important to address this in pre-marital counselling as well.
- Family Leadership. While both adults in a family are responsible for providing leadership, there are times where illness prevents this from happening. It is then the responsibility of the “well” partner to “step up to the plate” and provide the leadership that is required, particularly if there are young children in the family.
- Spiritual Leadership. Regardless of your own theological beliefs around who is the spiritual head of a home, it is important to empower both men and women to take on the role of spiritual leadership, particularly where one partner may be unwell and unable to provide the leadership this family may require. It is important to remember that partners who are equally yoked, are equally able to ensure that spiritual direction does not become a “thing of the past” simply because of one person’s ill-health.
- Encouragement. This family needs all the encouragement you and your congregation are able to provide. This does not mean that providing a false sense of hope will be helpful though. Help this family recognize the small things that they are doing right and encourage each family member to continue to do their very best.
- Sharing a Different perspective. There will be times that because of an illness, an individual may become fearful or paranoid that a situation is different than what you perceive it to be. If you are a trusted friend and pastor, frequently individuals will trust you to “tell them the truth” about what is happening. You can be crucial link to reality for individuals.
- Doctor’s Visits, Medication and Counselling Appointments. Sometimes, transportation for individuals who are very unwell can be problematic, particularly if the other family members are working and carrying out the rest of the family duties. If you are able to assist with transportation or are able to find a volunteer driver, this can be very helpful. Please, under no circumstances, DO NOT TELL INDIVIDUALS TO STOP TAKING THEIR MEDICATION. This is not within your area of expertise. If you or the individual has concerns around medication, their medical doctor, psychiatrist or crisis clinic are the places you need to direct them. It is irresponsible on your part, to suggest this action.
- Taking Time for Themselves. As their pastor, you have the unique ability to encourage individuals to take time for themselves, to find a balance in their activities and to develop a time for spiritual study and reflection. These activities can help tremendously with developing a healthy, ongoing lifestyle.
These above suggestions are only a few of the ways that you as a pastor can assist individuals and families experiencing significant mental health issues. At ACT Associates we have developed two workshops, usually presented a week apart that can teach and educate individuals on mental health. The first workshop is on Understanding Mental Health Issues and the second workshop is for Family and Friends Supporting Someone with a Mental Health Issue. If these workshops would be helpful for your parish or congregation, please do not hesitate to give us a call.
If there are other areas that you are in need of some support and assistance, please do not hesitate to call and come in. When God called you into a pulpit ministry, you were trained in Seminary for just that; being in the pulpit. We can be a resource to you in areas where you may require some support as well. When pastors do not have resources and supports to turn to, burnout can take a foothold. This is where we can be of assistance to you. God has called us into this ministry and not a pulpit ministry. Give us a call if we can help.