Mental Wellness Education Month at The Palms

October 2020 is Mental Wellness Education Month at The Palms. Each week this month, you will be provided with information you can use to become aware of the stigma associated with mental health. There are significant gaps that exist within our society making it difficult for individuals to receive proper care, support and treatment. From our faith communities to our insurance companies, retirement communities to our criminal justice system, attention must be given to the dismantling of this stigma and the tearing down of barriers so that journeys of resiliency and recovery can take place. Here is a list of the items to look for as the month progresses in the weekly Order of Worship and on the Tools2Thrive page.

Tackling Mental Health Stigma—Strength Over Silence

National Alliance on Mental Illness Ambassador Chris Hubbard

Discovering My Superpower—Strength Over Silence

National Alliance on Mental Illness Ambassador A.J. Mendez

You Are Not Alone—On The Road to Recovery

Listen to two stories from people with one or more mental conditions and how they are helping to break the stigma associated with mental wellness issues.

You Are Not Alone—Write Your Own Story Through the Psalms

Kay Klinkenborg will guide us to write our stories of healing, resiliency, and journeys to wholeness not matter where we are on the pendulum of mental wellness.

As a part of Mental Wellness Education Month, a group of 11 Church of the Palms members will be attending a virtual Mental Wellness First Aid Training Seminar on October 19th. Upon successful completion of the seminar, this group will be certified in Mental Wellness First Aid. They will understand what to look for and how to provide comfort, reduce distress related to stressful situations, and to call for proper professional assistance for the person experiencing a mental-health crisis. This training can be likened to using a first aid kit: they will learn how to be present, apply the ointment of comfort, the band-aid of protection against further stress, call for the professionals, and remain on the scene until that help arrives. The training could also be thought of in light of taking a CPR class. They are equipped to spot the signs of a person in distress and apply life-giving techniques until help arrives. Upon successful completion of the training, they will be available as resources on campus should the need for mental wellness assistance arise.

The training of this group is one of the last remaining steps in the process of The Palms becoming a W.I.S.E. Congregation for Mental Wellness. The W.I.S.E. Steering Committee has just completed and forwarded the W.I.S.E. for Mental Wellness Covenant Statement and W.I.S.E. for Mental Wellness Confidentiality Statement to our Church Council for approval. These statements along with the group of Certified Mental Wellness First Aid participants will be presented at our Annual Meeting in January 2021 for adoption by the Church. Once the Church adopts these items, we will apply to The United Church Of Christ Mental Health Network to be recognized as a W.I.S.E. Congregation for Mental Wellness.

WISE Moments for Mental Wellness: Preparedness

by Judy Jondahl

The WISE Moments for Mental Wellness will be focused on Preparedness during the month of September. Have you ever noticed how much stress and anxiety is associated with the physical things of your home that just need attention: if you don’t have a fire extinguisher; if you don’t have a way to see who is at your front or back doors without having to open the door; or if you don’t have automatic on/off lighting at the entrances of your home. Those are just a few of the items that we will address during the month. We will attempt to highlight the items that may increase your safety, both inside and outside of your home or apartment. We will also assist you with some ideas that may help you stay organized in case of a health crisis or emergency. It is important that you have contact information and your instructions prepared in case you are unable to speak for yourself in such crises.

While staying in our homes provides familiarity and a sense of independence, it is important that the home environment is safe and that we are prepared for emergencies. In both the survey conducted as a start of our Faith Community Nursing ministry and the recently-completed W.I.S.E. survey, home safety was identified as an area of concern. There is a definite link between physical and mental/emotional wellness, so I want to address some important steps that should be taken to ensure safety and preparation for potential emergencies in this month’s article. While many of those reading this are seniors or have physical limitations, it is important for all us to remember that falls are the number one cause of injury for seniors. Is your home taking precautions to avoid this in your home? Having recently experienced the danger of area/throw rugs recently, I was reminded why these home decorations may not be wise. And trying to get light into my main living area, I learned to how to hide extension cords when furniture is not up against a wall.

Keeping emergency numbers handy is another important preparation – cell phones can help with this if you program emergency numbers for easy access. At a minimum, include fire and police, Poison Control, doctor, and family or an emergency contact person.

Fire safety in your home includes having smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and change batteries regularly. My son, a fireman, on his first visit to my home, was walking around looking at the ceiling in each room. When I asked what he was doing, he said checking for smoke alarms. After he returned home, I received a package with 2 smoke detectors and a note that my son-inlaw would install them. He also knows my love of candles but strongly suggested I switch to the battery operated ones with timers. Recently, after getting home from a fire, he called with a reminder to stay low while getting to the closest exit to limit exposure to smoke.

Bathrooms and kitchens provide special considerations for safety. For example, I remember my daughter asking an apartment manager about installing grab bars in my bathroom. (After covering my ears, she referenced my age and smirked.) Kitchens generally have high cabinets, which may require use of a step stool to reach.

Ensuring adequate lighting can prevent misjudging space and shadows that can be misleading. Outdoor lighting is important when you or someone else approaches your home at night; motion sensor lights do not require electricity and can provide lighted walkways and discourage unwanted strangers.

Having peepholes in doors or some way to see who is at your door while keeping doors and windows locked are also ways to stay mentally and physically safe in your home. Staying aware of phone and email scams is also an important step in being prepared to avoid loss.

These next pages offer a place to begin. There are many items you can complete on your own and make the necessary safety improvements. If there are items that you can’t do, such as the installation of peep holes, indoor/outdoor lighting, and other tasks that require climbing of ladders or working with power tools, please start making a punch list of items that need attention. Once your list is complete, call Pastor Jim at 623.792.5295, and he will make arrangements to help you accomplish your safety goals. You will be surprised at how much more comfortable and at ease you will feel when these items are accomplished! If you do not see some items on this list that may help address areas of concern within your particular situation, please include them on your punch list, and we will try to address them.