Reflections on FaithNet at 2010 NAMI National Convention
As I reflect on the NAMI Convention 2010, the most wonderful development related to NAMI FaithNet's mission is that the network is growing in numbers and strength.
Through two new pilot teaching modules, we gained valuable feedback from well over 100 attendees. These scripted power point training modules will soon be downloadable from www.nami.org/faithnet. Thanks to our marvelous national staff support-- Katrina Gay, Christine Armstrong, Valerie Hunter and Angela Kimball!
In addition to these two NAMI FaithNet-sponsored sessions, the convention offered two others related to the integration of faith, mental illness and recovery.
Dr. Nancy Clare Kehoe from Harvard University Department of Psychiatry expertly summarized her findings in the symposia Faith, Mental Illness and Wholeness from 25 years of research and facilitating a spiritual beliefs and values discussion group in a Cambridge day treatment center.
The fourth session, A Multicultural Approach to Spiritual Practice and Recovery outlined the role of zazen and centering prayer, as well as the support African American congregations and Native American spirituality can offer for people living with serious mental illness.
Greeting friends and making new friends at the NAMI FaithNet exhibit table in NAMILand at the yearly NAMI Conventions is special. The enthusiasm for developing ministry with those with a mental illness and their families expressed by those stopping to talk is contagious.
A highlight for several years has been hearing the plans by Daisy Hollingsworth and her co-workers in Auburn, Alabama to have a conference for members of the clergy. This year it was wonderful to hear that 177 members of the clergy attended NAMI Alabama's first "Pastors Summit" in December 2009.
Wow! What a joy to be with the people face to face that I have come to know well through e-mail and conference calls!
It was also a joy to see five convention events focusing on the many expressions of faith and spirituality. Those of us working to address these issues found many opportunities to join in fellowship together and to share insights, ideas and plans for the future.
The support of NAMI national in helping us develop user-friendly training modules has affirmed the importance of treating the whole person. The overwhelming response we received from participants in these sessions renews my commitment and passion to finding ways to educate our congregations to be caring communities for persons living with mental illness and their families.
~Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder