Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness month and Sunday, May 16th is Mental Health Sunday. The worship service for that Sunday will encourage us to learn all we can and do all we can in the area of mental health.

As a WISE Congregation for Mental Wellness, we will be observing Mental Health Awareness Month, beginning with the Tools2Thrive found in this article, in conjunction with the Tools2Thrive page of our website, and the Orders of Worship for each week in May.

Through these tools, we trust that you will find support and assistance regarding the mental health challenges you may face. If you have family members or friends who may benefit from the Tools2Thrive or the support you can give, please make sure you share the information.

Mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are disorders of the brain. These illnesses are medical conditions that result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life when left untreated.

Anyone can have a mental illness. One in four adults experiences a mental-health disorder in a given year. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression, anxiety disorder or bipolar disorder. About one in 10 children live with a serious mental or emotional disorder.

Most mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan, which may include medication, individual or group therapy and activities, and other support services.

Mental illness can disrupt a person’s ability to work, care for himself/herself, and carry on relationships. It affects every aspect of life. However, because mental illness may not be immediately visible to others, the person can be negatively judged as being weak, lazy or uncooperative. This lack of understanding can lead to the stigma of people with mental illness.

Friends and family members feel the impact of mental illness experienced by their loved one. Those feelings can be varied, and family members, friends and caregivers need to be supported amid their experiences.

Some might feel protective of their loved one. Others may feel embarrassed by the social stigma associated with mental health challenges. Still others may feel angry. All may feel helpless to provide support and encouragement. This range of feelings is common, and friends and family members may feel all of these at different points and should be encouraged to seek professional counseling as needed.

You may have heard the phrase, “If you can’t take care of yourself, how are you going to care for someone else?” It is important that you become aware of signs that indicate your need for self-care by engaging in a support group or speaking with clergy or a counselor. This video and the following list may help you recognize those possible signs in yourself or others.

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or don’t grasp what changes others are describing)
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are not alone. If you or someone you know is in need of support, feel free to reach out to The WISE Steering Committee: Pastor Jim, Vickie Ashenbrenner, Mike Astle, Judy Jondahl, Kay Klinkenborg, Phil Ladd, Nancy Nonini, Andrea Stefanov, or Pastor Paul.

You can also utilize any of the phone numbers or services listed below. Keep this handy “Taking Charge of Your Mental Health” guide at your fingertips and watch for more information in the weeks to come.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Help Line 1-800-950-6264 https://www.nami.org/help

Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.TALK

Veteran’s Crisis Line 800.273.8255 press 1

Pastoral Care—Pastor Jim Alexander 623.792.5295 https://thepalms.org/Tools2Thrive

Mental Wellness Tips for 2021

Important Phone Numbers:
National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline 1-800-950-6264
Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800.273.TALK
Veterans’ Crisis Line 800.273.8255 press 1
Pastoral Care—Pastor Jim Alexander 623.792.5295

With each new year comes the opportunity to do things differently. I am not talking about making resolutions that we all know will go by the wayside by January 31! I am talking about doing things that will help you remain calm, focused, and set for 2021.

Besides the Tools2Thrive page, the Daily Devotionals, our Bridges to Learning classes, and our weekly Online Worship services, here are several tips for Mental Wellness I highly encourage you to incorporate into your life. You may be thinking, “I have seen all this before.” While that may be true, have you been able to make any of these tips habits within your daily activities? You may find that just one or two might make all the difference in your outlook and mental wellness. Happy New Year!

  • I will commit myself to being physically active each day. Studies have shown there is a link between mental and physical health.
  • I will resolve to be mentally healthy in the upcoming year. Seeking the aid of one of the agencies listed above, you may be able to sort through the mental or emotional concerns you might be having. This is one of the healthiest things we can do.
  • Relax! Commit yourself to carving out some time each day to “shutting down” and doing something for yourself that helps you rest and recharge your mental and emotional batteries.
  • Diligently speak nicely about yourself and treat yourself with respect. All good things begin from within, and a positive outlook on ourselves is a key to attracting more positivity into our lives.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remind yourself daily that as a human, you will make mistakes or miss goals, and that is okay. What is important is going forward in these situations in a positive manner.
  • Stay mindful and in the moment. Don’t dwell too much on the past or spend too much time fixating on the future. Remember to live in the here and now and enjoy all that life has to offer.
  • Act instead of reacting. Rather than allowing yourself to get caught up in reacting to the actions of others that push your buttons, be prepared with a mental list of disarming statements to counteract the negative statements of others.
  • Do not allow yourself to be defined by a label. Instead of thinking and speaking of yourself as being overweight, anxious, depressed, etc. … say instead “I have depression and today I will exercise to help manage that.”
  • I will strive to become the person I want to be. View life as a journey full of adventures rather than a series of obstacles you have to overcome. Enjoy the ride that life is, rather than focusing on the bumps in the road.

WISE Moment for Mental Health

As The Palms focuses on LGBTQ Pride and National Hunger Awareness Month, it is a blessing that our church is a safe place to speak openly, advocate fully, and remain present with our LGBTQ Community. There is still much to do to ensure that our lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer brothers and sisters experience rights and freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution. Thank you for your commitment to be the church!

The coronavirus pandemic has put the LGBTQ community, particularly those aged 50 and up, at increased risk in several ways. A history of systemic discrimination and poorer health outcomes is part of the reason. Coupled with the fact that many LGBTQ individuals do not feel comfortable coming out to their health care providers and other possible resources, these precious souls are not receiving the help they need. Loneliness is another big concern. Many live alone and don’t have people to check on them to help ensure that regular medical appointments and that proper access to food and household necessities is available to them. Lack of companionship leads to additional stress, increased depression and may lead to the use of alcohol or other substances.

How can we help? First, reach out to your friends. Stay connected! If you know people who are particularly vulnerable, offer what you can: resources, phone numbers, companionship. Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of those who may be at risk. Check out the links provided below. Lets keep working on ways to be Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive & Engaged for the mental health of everyone in our community!

After the Rain

by Pastor Jim Alexander

There’s always a rainbow after the rain.

The Church of the Palms has been encouraged to focus on some aspect of mental health each month for the past several months. Our areas of focus have been: Self Esteem (February), Developmental Disabilities Awareness (March), The Warning Signs of Mental Illness (April), and Mental Health Awareness Month/WISE Congregation for Mental Health Survey (May). We have provided tips and tools along with hotlines and websites to support our community along the way.

As we continue on our quest to become a WISE Congregation for Mental Health, our WISE Steering Committee has been very busy developing their plans and drafting the WISE Covenant that will be presented to the Church for adoption. The results from the congregational survey and input from across the membership of The Palms as we develop the content of The WISE Covenant. Please continue to pray that we may draw the circle wider as a welcoming, inclusive, supportive and engaged congregation for all people. Our Mental Health Focus for the month of June is twofold. June is LGBTQ Pride Month and it is also National Hunger Awareness Month. These two go very well together and here’s why.

The coronavirus pandemic has had unexpected effects for LGBTQ people around the world: forcing some LGBTQ citizens who may not be accepted by their family and friends to face hostile living environments. The pandemic is also placing vulnerable people of all walks of life at risk of homelessness and employment insecurity. It has also become very apparent with the financial and social destruction being leveled by the pandemic, that certain government agencies are stalling progress on potential legal changes that could grant LGBTQ and other marginalized people greater rights.

In an ordinary year, Pride celebrations would offer a chance to gather together, celebrate the achievements of the community and reflect on the future for social change.

But four months ago, more than 220 Pride celebrations scheduled worldwide were cancelled or delayed, including Phoenix Pride. The Palms has participated in this event for the past three years.

“LGBT people around the world are insanely resilient, but they face isolation every day in their life,” says J. Andrew Baker, co-President of Interpride, the international association of Pride organizers. “One of the challenges we find today is that LGBT people are even more isolated.” To overcome that isolation, the world’s biggest international Pride networks, Interpride and the European Pride Organizers Association, are organizing a “Global Pride” to be celebrated online on June 27. Global Pride organizers are planning a 24-hour live streamed event, including remote contributions from international Prides, speeches from human-rights activists, workshops with activists and high-profile performers yet to be confirmed.

Be sure to check out the Interpride website and make your plans to participate! The Palms will provide reminders and additional information about this event.

As a church, let us look for ways to make The Palms a safe place for those who may be experiencing abuse in their homes and communities due to their sexual orientation. Whether you are a part of the LGBTQ community or not, if you feel that you are not safe in your home, remember: you are not alone, you are loved and we will provide help to you. Call Pastor Jim or Pastor Paul at 623.977.8359.

Because there are so many people unemployed/underemployed, homeless, or displaced due to the pandemic, we also want to focus on the ways in which we might address the issue of hunger during this month. The People of The Palms have been consistently generous in providing food for I-Help, HART Pantry, and various food banks within the Sun City area. We are meeting the urgent needs of those who would otherwise be going without.

There are mental health concerns associated with food deprivation. Nearly 15 % of all households in the United States did not have enough to eat daily and suffered from recurring hunger before the pandemic, and that percentage has increased dramatically. The emotional and psychological tension associated with hunger can be devastating to individuals and whole families. Here are some ways to ensure that we are doing our part.

Donate
Donating, whether money or food, is a great way to help local food banks. Most donations to food banks are made between Thanksgiving and Christmas — which is great — but donations are needed year-round. Monetary donations allow the food banks to buy food during the less popular months for giving. You can drop your donation off in the church office. Make sure you mark it HUNGER RELIEF.

Volunteer with a Food Bank
It doesn’t always take a big financial investment to make a big impact. Volunteering is a great way to spend your time making a difference. By volunteering, you give families the opportunity to use the money they have towards bills and other living expenses while being able to have food on the table. In addition, volunteering can be a great family gathering, team bonding or employee engagement event. Witness firsthand how your presence and support are affecting those in your community!

To find a food bank in Arizona, visit the website of the Arizona Food Bank Network.

Continue to Bring Food and Fill the Shopping Cart
Food drives help stock shelves and play a vital role in encouraging community participation. Continue bringing your non-perishable food items to the church and fill the shopping cart. If you are not able to bring it yourself, please call the church office at 623.977.8359 and we will arrange to have your items picked up.