By Alex Stegeman, DO
Psychiatrist at Ramsey County Mental Health Center, Gloria Dei member, Mental Health Ministry team
The Mental Health Ministry team of Gloria Dei is particularly active this month, providing information on mental health. This month, we encourage the members of Gloria Dei to think about their own lives, as well as the lives of those around them: Stop!, Look!, Listen!, and Read!
Stop! Take a moment and think things through; pause.
Look! Observe what is going on around you; some signs of mental illness can be subtle.
Listen! We are often so absorbed in our own thoughts that we don’t take the time to listen to others.
Read! On each Sunday in May, the Mental Health Ministry team will share many resources of information and support throughout the church.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which started in 1949 by Mental Health America (MHA), a non-profit organization that promotes mental well-being, provides screening services, and advocacy. Every May, MHA, and other organizations, raise awareness of mental illness and offer screening services. This year, their theme is “#4MIND4BODY CHALLENGE”, which encourages willing participants to make small daily changes to improve their overall well-being. We can do the same here at Gloria Dei.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), twenty-five percent of US adults will suffer from mental illness, not even accounting for children within this statistic! This means, over 600 of Gloria Dei’s members are personally affected by mental illness. We know that mental illness can lead to death and can make other medical conditions worse. Common among mental illnesses are depression and anxiety. Both depression and anxiety encompass a wide array of possible symptoms, many of which can be debilitating, and impair a person’s ability to function. Both conditions can affect people of any age. Both can be normal emotions that a person experiences; for example, it is normal to feel grieved and sad with the death of a loved one. Pre-test butterflies are also common and normal. Anxiety and depression may require treatment when symptoms start impacting a person’s daily life.
Many treatments exist for anxiety and depression, as well as a myriad of other mental illnesses. With that being said, awareness and acceptance are the first steps to take. It is the nature of depression and anxiety that they can cloud a person’s awareness, leading to suffering without treatment. Stigma still exists and this also prevents people from seeking treatment.
Mental health concerns directly impact our parish and our community at large. Use Mental Health Awareness Month to learn about mental health issues. The resources available each Sunday in May will be at various locations within Gloria Dei. Stop!, Look!, Listen!, and Read! in and near the Library, the Gathering Place, and the display rack near the office of our parish nurse. Our Mental Health Ministry team will be on hand to help you locate topics, resources, and materials.