Members of The Well Community look forward each year to the opportunity to have their fall retreat at Mt. Lebanon Camp in Cedar Hill. Even thought the outing is only two days and one night, members find it refreshes their souls and restores hope. This year the theme was “Connecting with God.” Intern Diego Contreras led the devotions based on the book Finding Faith: A Search for What is Real by Brian McLaren. Here’s a brief video overview of our time together, a time made possible by caring donors.
The following blog was written by friend of The Well Community, Catherine Downing, at the invitation of Amy Simpson (author of Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission) and posted on Amy’s site October 2, 2017. It is written from the perspective of a family member of a loved one who lives with chronic mental health issues. Catherine describes one way her deep faith strengthens her in the journey. Continue reading
Yesterday The Well was given a gift that prompted not only gratitude but a deep sense of sadness: 600 pairs of shoes, each representing a life lost to suicide in the Greater Dallas area in 2018. This is The Well Community’s sixth year to be the recipient of these shoes, which are donated for the Greater Dallas Suicide Prevention Coalition’s Suicide Awareness Day, and each year we receive them with heavy hearts. Continue reading
In our increasingly connected world, isolation and loneliness are becoming more and more common. But, they’re especially prevalent struggles for those living with mental illness, and they can have particularly devastating consequences: Both mental health challenges and lack of connection to others increase a person’s risk of suicide. Continue reading
It’s a fact: Severe mental illness is a thief. It robs people of their potential, their future and often their ability to function with the day-to-day things of life. It takes away dignity and strips self-confidence. Many are left without the capacity to earn a living, find secure housing or take care of personal needs. Continue reading
Poverty touches every area of life for members of The Well Community. Program Coordinators Ericka Ruiz and Gemma Cardenas continually see how lack of resources tie the hands of those living with serious mental illnesses, preventing them from pursuing recovery. Continue reading
It’s hard to overstate the weight of poverty in the lives of those dealing with mental illnesses. Poverty can both increase the likelihood that a person will suffer from mental health challenges and make it more difficult for those already living with these struggles to pursue recovery.
Many intertwining factors related to poverty create a tangled cycle for those living with mental health conditions. For example, a serious mental illness can make it difficult for a person to hold down a job. As a result of being out of work, they may be unable to afford healthy food or a bus pass to get to a doctor’s appointment, adding extra hurdles in managing their illness. They may lose their housing, further eroding their ability to pursue stability. And, as they lack the resources necessary to take steps to improve their mental health, they remain unable to work and their condition may become an even greater struggle. Continue reading
Participating in a church leaders panel discussion on mental health several years ago, I was asked what Bible verse summed up my philosophy on serving those living with mental health conditions. I suppose some might have gone first to Jesus’ teaching about “caring for the least of these.” But I have always been uncomfortable with the application of that passage to this topic. It feels a little patronizing. Continue reading
“God created us all in his image, which is love. I think the problem we have in mental and social health is that we don’t believe we are loved or lovable,” says Pastor Nita Allen of Oak Cliff Christian Church. She adds that we often don’t realize that God loves us intimately and wants us to become like him. Those who’ve been abused or neglected—as is the case for many who live with mental illness—often believe that they’re unwanted because that’s the message they’ve received. Continue reading
Faith communities are often the first places individuals and families turn to when faced with the challenges of mental illness, especially during a crisis. Churches have unique opportunities to minister, not only in times of acute struggle, but in the daily hurdles as well.
A 2018 LifeWay Research study found most pastors, family members and those living with acute mental illnesses agree that local churches have a responsibility to provide resources and support for these individuals and their families. But, knowing how to serve them in ways that truly bless them and affirm their value can be a challenge.
Thankfully, there are many resources that can help churches become more aware of mental illnesses and how to minister to those who struggle with these conditions. The following books and websites provide information and tools to help churches welcome those who deal with mental health challenges and provide practical assistance. Continue reading