On February 28th, we hosted our first ever Mental Health Prayer Breakfast for Faith Leaders with our friends at Maryland Wellness. It was a morning full of discussion around the mental health concerns that local faith leaders are facing, and how to find a path forward to make sure that all congregations are connected with the appropriate resources, so that if a community member comes to them needing mental health support, they know where to point them.
During our panel discussion, we were grateful to hear from the below Faith and Community Leaders:
Dr. Carla Debnam – First Lady of Morning Star Baptist Church
Ayyub Hanif – CEO of INGE Benevolent Ministries, co-founder of Muslimat Al-Nisaa, and Registered Nurse
Denielle Randall, LCSW-C – Pathways to Advocacy Against Violence Everyday program (PAAVE) at the Center for Hope in Baltimore City, Maryland.
Tikvah Womack, LCPC – Jewish Community Services and serves as a member of the Jewish faith congregation
Pastor Rodney Morton – Pastor of Central Baptist Church
Key themes and takeaways that arose throughout the discussion were as follows:
- Mental health trainings are desired for all congregation staff, including security and front desk personnel because they might be the first point of contact for someone in need of support
- Collaboration and forming a Mental Health Coalition between multiple congregation leaders was of interest
- Cultural humility and cultural competency are seen as buzz words, and there should be more focus around truly putting these concepts into practice, by acknowledging implicit bias
- There is a need to look at the whole individual and their life experiences, beyond just mental or physical health because oftentimes, peoples’ living situations can affect the two
- The desire to stop criminalization of suicide attempts was shared by many faith leaders, who recalled incidences where police involvement and the use of handcuffs was traumatizing for both the individual at risk, and family members
Churches, temples, mosques, and faith communities reach 70% if the American population each month. Faith communities can fight stigma through educating their congregations and staff, to create a culture that truly offers emotional, relational, and spiritual counseling to people touched by mental illness.
If you are interested in participating in future mental health programs for faith communities, sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop for our Mental Health Education Faith Conference on May 4th, 2023!
Stay engaged with our activities in West Baltimore and to reach out to Outreach Coordinator Tyleia Reed at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info about our support group at Bon Secours Community Resource Center.
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