In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week and this year October 10 is World Mental Health Day. The goal then and now is to end the stigma associated with Mental health challenges and to “ensure better understanding and provide access to diagnosis and treatment.”
People with mental problems are our neighbors. They are members of our congregations, members of our families; they are everywhere in this country. If we ignore their cries for help, we will be continuing to participate in the anguish from which those cries for help come. A problem of this magnitude will not go away. Because it will not go away, and because of our spiritual commitments, we are compelled to take action.
“Nothing about us without us!”
As Trinity English continues to expand worship and engagement opportunities, we are having conversations that encourage people from our community to share their thoughts and feelings about what defines a safe and welcoming space for them. A person with autism, might define that differently than one who is not identified as being on the spectrum. A teen struggling with thoughts of suicide might want to withdraw from church and become isolated. A veteran with PTSD might wrestle with painful memories and fear. Perhaps acknowledging who is around us and who is missing are equally important. For many of us, bright spaces and singing hymns, sitting still for a sermon, having silent time for prayer, sharing the peace, and being in a large crowded sanctuary make us anxious or worse. Perhaps we can take the first step in being a welcoming community by being tolerant of those who find some of these practices to be uncomfortable. One way to affirm another’s presence is to simply smile.
Please help us to actively listen and respond to the one in four among us who struggle with challenges of mental well-being and brain disorders. If you, or someone you love is experiencing distress, Trinity English’s pastors, staff and volunteers want to walk with you on your journey, not as mental health professionals, but as companions on journeys toward wholeness and healing.
“If we are willing to embrace the challenge of becoming whole, we can’t do it alone. At least not for long. We need trustworthy relationships to sustain us in the journey toward an undivided life. Rejoining soul and role requires community- a circle of trust.”
Going back to school is not supposed to be traumatic, but it can be quite a stressful time for students, parents, and teachers. Trauma is a complicated part of life and each of us experiences it at some time or another. Research tells us that persons experiencing poverty live with higher levels of trauma, which affects every aspect of our being. South Wayne Elementary, our Study Connection Partner, has 97% of their students living at or below the poverty level. Consequently, they are using a trauma-informed model for their school. Trauma sensitive schools know that the challenges their students face at home significantly impact their behavior and potential to learn. Being mindful of body language, tone of voice, maintaining bright welcoming spaces, and other strategies can help students feel safe and secure. Leading with kindness and a smile establishes a memorable model we all can follow.
The financial strain of buying the basic necessities of clothing and school supplies can be a hardship both for families and for teachers who want their students to feel the dignity of having new clothes and supplies.
Our Study Connection program has proven to be a highly effective way to remind our South Wayne students that they are loved and respected. We are recruiting additional volunteers again this year because we believe that raising healthy, well-educated children is a responsibility we share as a community. Please contact Shirley Jordan, our Study Connection facilitator if you would like to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org.
O God, give us strength to work hard, guidance to work effectively, words to inspire and nourish, and a spirit of cooperation for our children's greater good.
- Marian Wright Edelman
We are nearing the end of a significant observation during the month of May. Mental Health Awareness Month was designated to bring light to the challenges faced by individuals living with brain illnesses, and the community supports that are available for them and their families. This year's focus is entitled Risky Business to highlight the behaviors that can compromise one's health and overall sense of wellbeing. In response to these risks, Mental Health America and NAMI Faithnet (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) have created a behavioral strategy for combatting these risks.
In addition to the risks that are mentioned, we'd like to explore an additional risk: When we discuss persons living with mental health challenges, it's easy to fall into language that stigmatizes rather than supports. WORDS CAN and DO HURT! Trinity English is hoping to provide an ongoing safe setting where such risks can be addressed in a variety of ways. Perhaps we can begin by examining the language we use.
It requires discipline to change our language. Let's think of it as mental exercise! By using intentional language we rethink how one's personhood is primary and a diagnosis or health condition is much farther down the list. Let's do more than just exercise our mindfulness muscle. Let's tone it by listening mindfully, as well. When we hear stigmatizing language, let's identify it and replace it with language that reflects far more than tolerance. Let us love one another - beginning with our words, and see the individual, name the person, as a beloved child of God, first and always.
Want to explore how to fight the stigma of brain illness? Let's continue the conversation together.
April is a month that often conjures thoughts of baseball games, green grass, and opening the windows to let the sunshine in... and the winter coodies out! However, many do not necessarily think of April as being Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
No one should ever feel they must walk alone following trauma.
In the same way that Jesus accompanied all who suffered, our community of faith at Trinity English seeks to create a safe setting where companionship may occur: to hear stories, pray, and walk along side anyone who is carrying a burden, including persons with troubling experiences that often remain hidden secrets. We respect the fact that there is a critical distinction between companionship and professional counseling. Consequently, we regularly refer those seeking professional assistance to local counselors at various mental and behavioral health agencies, including Lutheran Social Services, Safe Harbour Counseling, Park Center, The Bowen Center, and others.
Please join us in donating to our valued community partner, and pray with us that, as a community of faith, we may create safe spaces where all who live with painful life experience will find peace, hope, and renewal.
It is never our intention to trigger painful emotions or memories. Consequently, we often steer clear of discussing difficult topics such as sexual assault entirely, and the result unfortunately, is that stereotypes and stigma surrounding these topics are perpetuated, and persons affected by sexual assault remain isolated without the benefit of appropriate support, counseling, healthcare, or spiritual companionship.
If discussions surrounding sexual assault prompt the need to speak with a professional:
The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1. 800.656.HOPE (4673)
Discussions about the "Me Too" movement and reports of sexual misconduct have increased markedly in recent months. We are blessed to have an invaluable resource in Fort Wayne to care for individuals who have experienced an attack of this nature. The Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center is a valued community partner of Trinity English Lutheran Church, largely because their forensic nurses embody compassionate, professional, and confidential care for their patients of all ages.
Why is bamboo used as the logo of the
Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center?
"By bending with the wind or the storm it can weather these rough moments, to emerge whole and stronger afterwards. We would do well to take this lesson from bamboo, when a stronger force confronts us, do not meet it headlong, find a way to bend and overcome; by so doing you too will emerge whole and stronger."
We hear frequently that the dreams of our community's seniors are not being realized as they anticipated. Many are raising grandchildren and great grandchildren. In January 2018 Trinity is beginning our Grands' Cafe, an opportunity for information and idea sharing, respite and support for grandparents raising grandchildren. In many cases this is the new face of an American Family.
Want to learn more? Please contact Janet Altmeyer, Director of City Ministry.