December 22, 2006
Christmas, Hanukkah, Rohatsu, Eid ul Adha, Kwanzaa, Solstice, and Yule are all holidays this time of year when families come together to celebrate and reminisce. This can be an especially hard time for some people, though, who may be coping with grief, loneliness, illness, economic concerns, or relationship issues.
If you are dealing with any of these things, you are not alone.
Recognizing that people's experiences are often quite different from the "Hallmark" images that bombard us during this time of year, Rev. Susan Gregg-Shroeder of Mental Health Ministries has created a brochure called "Mental Illness: Coping with the Holidays." In it, she offers tips for persons with a mental illness, their families and friends, and guidelines for faith communities.
"Despite our good intentions, remember that the holidays rarely turn out as planned," writes Rev. Gregg-Shroeder. "As a person who lives with a mental illness, I have learned the importance of self-care…especially during times of stress in our lives.
"Try as much as possible to maintain your routines like sleeping, regular meals, exercising, taking medication, keeping appointments with mental health professionals and attending support groups," she advises.
She also provides advice for families and friends of people with mental illness, and their faith communities, such as how to reach out while respecting others' boundaries and limitations.
Like Mental Health Ministries, NAMI's FaithNet also provides resources to support faith communities in mental illness outreach, education, and advocacy.
FaithNet is a network composed of members and friends of NAMI. It was established to facilitate the development within the faith community of a non-threatening, supportive environment for those with serious mental illness and their families, pointing out the value of one’s spirituality in the recovery process from mental illness and the need for spiritual strength for those who are caretakers.
FaithNet is not a religious network, but rather an outreach to all religious organizations. Its success can be attributed to the basic tenets of all the major religions-- giving care and showing compassion to those in need-–something that is especially important this time of year.
Visit the FaithNet Web site at faithnet.nami.org.
Happy holidays from everyone at NAMI, and best wishes for a healthy, prosperous new year.