In This Issue:
By Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder, NAMI FaithNet Advisory Group, Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
On Friday, November 11, Veteran’s Day provides us the opportunity to remember and honor all persons who have served in the U.S. military—past and present. We can make a difference in the lives of millions if we not only remember, but also reach out to support these men and women returning from combat service. Many service members return experiencing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a major mental health disorder, which is caused in this case by factors relating to enlistment in the military, including combat. A Rand Corporation study estimated that one in five U.S. service members who served in Iraq or Afghanistan will experience major depression or PTSD.
As more of our troops continue to return home, we are seeing an increase in combat stress, addiction, domestic violence and suicide. Too often the response to these serious mental health problems is silence, resulting in only half of those affected seeking treatment. As military doctors, officers and chaplains encourage service men and women to get help for PTSD symptoms, more are beginning to seek treatment. When diagnosed early, the symptoms can be treated and more significant problems can be avoided. Regardless of political views about the war, clergy and faith communities can be part of the support team for returning veterans and their families.
Here are a few ways faith communities can support military persons and their families:
For more information, NAMI's newest brochure on mental illness, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, covers the symptoms of trauma, treatment options and coping strategies for individuals living with PTSD and their loved ones. Written by NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth, M.D., it can also be used as a tool to help returning service men and women and veterans. Read the brochure online or purchase copies in the NAMI bookstore. In addition, NAMI offers Web resources via the NAMI Veteran’s Resource Center, complete with support and information for families, veterans and active duty military experiencing mental health issues and a Web resource on PTSD.
Citing studies that have found that spirituality helps many struggling with mental illness, MLive, an online collective of Michigan newspapers, recently featured a compelling article on faith as a powerful partner in mental health care. This article explores the view many churches have of treatment, the view many in the treatment field have of religion and the ultimate benefit of both to people who live with mental illness. Read the MLive article for the full story.
Despite a vivid, negative childhood experience, Huffington Post blogger Monica Coleman, Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at the Claremont School of Theology, finds understanding in it. In October, Coleman offered encouragement and advice to faith communities, recognizing that they are “best-positioned to respond to the faith issues that arise for people who live with and love those who live with mental illness.” Read her Huffington Post blog for the full story.
NAMI FaithNet respects all faith beliefs. It also recognizes the expression by the majority of those affected by mental illness of the importance of the role of their spirituality in their ability to cope with having one of these illnesses themselves or in caring for an ill friend or family member.
Support NAMI to help millions of Americans who face mental illness every day.Donate today
Inspire others with your message of hope. Show others they are not alone.Share your story
Become an advocate. Register on NAMI.org to keep up with NAMI news and events.Join NAMI Today