Spiritual Crossroads: Faith, Mental Health and the African American CommunityOn May 15 and 16, 2012, nearly 350 key stakeholders from around the state, including consumers and family members, faith leaders, mental health advocates, policy makers and service providers met in Fort Worth, Texas for the 17th biennial Robert Lee Sutherland Seminar, “Spiritual Crossroads: Faith, Mental Health and the African American Community.” The conference took place at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Spiritual Crossroads: Faith, Mental Health and the African American Community (PDF)
Day One - May 15
Keynote: Mental Health and Recovery – What’s Faith Got to Do with It? (No PowerPoint Presentation)
Speakers: Rev. Dr. Robert M. Gilmore, Sr., Dr. Matthew Stanford
Keynote: Faith and the Finish Line – The Race to Recovery (No PowerPoint Presentation)
Speakers: Traceé Black-Fall, Jinneh Dyson, Pastor AJ Quinton
Afternoon Breakout Sessions I
This session focused on best practices to better identify people who may be experiencing a crisis. Participants gained useful knowledge to help members in their congregations and other practice settings. Participants identified strategies to help save a life and restore a soul. Attendees learned how to recognize warning signs, symptoms and clues given by individuals contemplating suicide, improve listening skills to identify individuals who may be in a crisis, and learn how to refer individuals for professional help.
Speakers: Deborah Duncan, Pastor AJ Quinton
This session provided a consumer-focused overview of the provisions of the 2010 health law. The presentation addressed: how the law impacts the general public, young adults and Medicare beneficiaries; the efforts to decrease fraud and abuse; and the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan that provides coverage for both physical and mental health. Additionally, the session explored the race/ethnic differences in diagnoses, treatment utilization, and the role that psychosocial variables play in prognosis and recovery, including the strength of spirituality in behavioral treatment.
Speakers: Roger Adams, Dr. Vicki Nejtek
This session addressed the importance of children’s mental health. Participants discussed the challenges of receiving treatment without being stigmatized as a nonbeliever. The goal of this session was to educate participants about children’s mental health, connecting mental health and spirituality, and helping families get needed services.
Speaker: Barbara Fountain
Ministers’ Session: Matters of the Mind: Mental Health 101 (No PowerPoint Presentation)
If a person has strong faith, an active prayer life and truly believes in a higher power, then they can conquer anything, even mental illness, right? One in four people, including believers, will experience a mental health condition at some time in his or her life. As a faith leader, it is important to understand mental illness, including the signs and symptoms of the most common mental health conditions in children, youth, adults and the elderly.
Speaker: Rev. Dr. Michael Torres
Afternoon Breakout Sessions II - May 16
Breakout A: Who’s Knocking at Your Door? (Please email us for a copy of the PowerPoint presentation.)
Today more and more people are questioning their faith and some are even losing hope. We must begin to support and embrace our brothers and sisters where they are and complement their journeys with compassion. Through action, we can help the faith community understand the role they must play in supporting individuals who live with mental health issues and/or co-occurring disorders. This session provided a foundation for removing potential barriers to obtaining services and care. It promoted a new posture and confidence for faith communities to assist individuals living with these often misunderstood conditions move towards recovery and resilience.
Speaker: Traceé Black-Fall
This session was designed for anyone interested in learning more about mental illness from a theological perspective. Topics included a theological and clinical understanding of and response to mental illness, recognizing mental illness vs. counseling issues, knowing the essential role of the church in the recovery and treatment process, responding to families dealing with mental illness, and creating mental health-related supportive care within the church. This workshop helped equip individuals and their church to effectively minister and support those living with mental illness.
Speaker: Dr. Matthew Stanford
Breakout C: Spirituality and the Recovery Movement (PPT)
This session focused on faith-based community support services and the recovery movement as it relates to African American behavioral health and primary care. It explored the history of the recovery movement including a spiritual perspective. Participants learned about the new national, state and local activities to engage the African American faith community in health, wellness and the recovery movement.
Speaker: Joe Powell
Ministers’ Session: When Worshippers Worry (No PowerPoint Presentation)
Ministers and faith leaders are often approached by concerned family members or individuals who are experiencing varying levels of discomfort in their lives. Mental health conditions can sometimes go unnoticed or even manifest in ways that appear to be sin, bad behavior or simply addiction. This session helped leaders begin to identify the importance of addressing the stigma surrounding seeking help and strategies for encouraging congregants to seek proper treatment and support to meet their mental health needs.
Speaker: Rev. Dr. Micah McCreary
Keynote: Faith Leaders Converse – A Prescription for Connecting Mind, Body and Spirit (No PowerPoint Presentation)
Speakers: Dr. Paula Dobbs-Wiggins, Rev. Dr. Micah McCreary, Rev. Dr. Michael Torres
Morning Breakout Sessions I
When dealing with mental illness, families look for guidance, support and understanding from their faith community and may
not look elsewhere for support. It is for these reasons that the National Alliance on Mental Illness has developed two models that help provide support for families, raise awareness among communities and encourage collaboration between organizations. This session offered an interactive presentation on how to conduct successful implementation, outreach and educational programming for local congregations, an overview on how to use these initiatives as tools for collaboration, and how to replicate these models.
Speakers: Angelina Brown Hudson, Jinneh Dyson, Gary Eagleton, WyKisha McKinney
Race and institutionalized racism are at the core of disproportionate and disparate outcomes for vulnerable communities and communities of color in every system, including health and mental health. In this session, participants had courageous conversations about race, its manifestations, the history of institutionalized racism and its impact on vulnerable populations. Participants learned how institutionalized racism is unconsciously upheld in systems through policies and practices and learn a set of core values that promote systems change.
Speakers: Sheila Craig
Breakout C: The GoodNEWS: Promoting Holistic Health in the Congregational Setting (Please email us for a copy of the PowerPoint presentation.)
Mental health relies on holistic health - physical, social, intellectual, occupational, environmental and spiritual. In this session, participants learned about the importance of mental health, its relationship to intellectual and spiritual health, and how these three components work together to nurture our bodies, minds and spirits. It provided information, lessons and experiences from the GoodNEWS faith and science-based program, research on the spiritual and mental health connection, and practical ways to promote mental health in our own lives and in our congregations. It discussed the need for living well in all dimensions of life, and supporting one another to achieve optimal health.
Speaker: Dr. Mark DeHaven
Ministers’ Session: Developing a Whole Health Ministry (PPT)
Mental health is often overlooked and left out of health ministries within places of worship. This session shared strategies to consider when developing a faith-based health ministry as well as explore the differences between spiritual and psychological ministries. Faith leaders discussed how to build support networks and partnerships for developing healthy communities.
Speakers: Rev. Dr. Robert M. Gilmore, Sr., Rev. Carl Matthews
Morning Breakout Sessions II
This session highlighted the growing need for competent mental health services in the local church. Participants learned how to sync theology with psychology. It discussed reasons for counseling, who can counsel, and the legal and moral responsibilities of counseling.
Speaker: Natasha Stewart
Forgiveness can be a powerful life-giving tool in the healing process. The Las Obras PERDÓN (Forgiveness) Process combines the disciplines of psychology, sociology and behavioral health in a context of religious beliefs facilitated by trained laity working in strong and effective faith-health partnerships. Through the learned art of forgiveness, participants gain a positive change in their emotional experience, learn new perspectives and are empowered to embark on a life-long path of continued healing, reconciliation and self-learning. This life-giving process helps create lasting change, strengthen relationships and helps develop a heart of mercy that brings true internal peace.
Speakers: Maria Uceda-Gras
This session provided an overview of successful grant strategies for faith-based initiatives. With more than 25 years of experience, this presenter shared strategies in giving and writing grants to grow social issue initiatives. Participants gained an understanding of what corporate and foundation funders look for when funding a grant. Topics included the process of applying for a grant, "pitching" your faith-based ministry work and the value of collaborating to secure funding.
Speaker: Sherrye Willis
Ministers’ Session : Clergy, Heal Thyself (No PowerPoint Presentation)
As leaders, clergy are often placed on a pedestal and seen as flawless by their flock. They often spend countless hours caring for the needs of others while oftentimes unable to be completely transparent about their own struggles. This session helped ministers recognize the importance of self-care and identify strategies for addressing their own mental health needs.
Speaker: Dr. Paula Dobbs-Wiggins
Check back soon for notes from the Regional Planning Session.
To view pictures from the conferemce, check out our Facebook page.