In 2007, three Trinity families came face-to-face with traumatic mental illness in their lives. In response, these three couples called together the Trinity clergy, a physician and two mental health professionals to form the Trinity Mental Health Initiative (MHI). The purpose is to open up and facilitate the kind of conversation that often isolates families even in a loving community: a conversation about mental illness, namely, what is it and how we as a faith community can get and give help to those who live with a brain-based illness.
As the Trinity Health Initiative board explored its mission, it became apparent there were more caregivers in the faith community than just parents needing resources and support. National statistics state that 1 in 4 adults has dealt with depression, anxiety or something less common like a bipolar or schizophrenia diagnosis.
This ministry serves both the Trinity community and beyond in numerous ways:
- Family-to-Family: This 12-week course offers education and support for caregivers of family members with mental illness. If you or someone you love wants more information about the course at Trinity, visit http://www.namihelps.org.
- Peer Ministry: The MHI underwrites the cost of Trinity youth to be part of peer ministry to learn relational caring and welcoming and affirming skills. Click here for more information about this dynamic and effective program.
Suicide-Prevention Training (safeTALK): This class teaches how to support someone’s desire for safety by recognizing the warning signs of suicide, identifying people who are at risk, and applying the TALK steps (Tell, Ask, Listen and Keep Safe) to connect a person to suicide first-aid resources. More information here.
- Book/Literature events: Guest authors who have written books relating to mental illness or who have experienced mental illness themselves, share their stories. Past authors include:
- Sandra Allen (A Kind of Mirraculus Paradise), a true story about schizophrenia
- Marya Hornbacher (Wasted, a Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, and Madness, a powerful, beautiful, account of one woman’s battle with Bipolar disorder)
- Andy Steiner (How to Survive) in discussion about mental health
- Adam Cayton-Holland whose memoir Tragedy Plus Time is a tribute to his youngest sister and an open and honest look at mental illness and mourning
- Teen mental health aauthors Swati Avasthi (Chasing Shadows), Peter Bognanni (Things I am Seeing Without You), Shannon Gidney (See No Color), Kathleen Glasgow (Girl in Pieces), Rachel Gold (Being Emily, the first young adult novel to tell the story of a trans girl from her perspective), Pete Hautman (Godless)
Mary Cregan discussing her memoir The Scar, an intimate insider account of recovery from mental illness
Advent Blue Christmas Service: While the holidays can be a joyful time in one’s life, not everyone has that experience. This lovely service is filled with contemplative prayer.
While the Mental Health Initiative and its ministry was born out of heartbreak and the deepest kind of pain and grief, it has evolved into a life-giving, energized ministry to the community. Both our prayer and our goal are to curb the stigma associated with mental illness and provide information, inspiration and hope to our community. There is always room for new voices and ideas in our work.