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Focus on Mental Health

Shimmering peace in the midst of darkness

Sue Nickel
Focus on Mental Health | By Sue Nickel | May 17, 2017

“Argh!” I cried out, as I slammed my fist down hard onto the kitchen counter. “I hate this! I’m so tightly wound up my body feels ready to split open. I can’t stand the tension anymore!”

Healing for soul and spirit

The indigenous drum has become important to Sara Fretz. (Photo by Jennie Wiebe Photography, courtesy of Sara Fretz)

Focus on Mental Health | By Dave Rogalsky | May 17, 2017

Singing has always been a passion for Sara Fretz. Long before she took up the profession of music therapy she found music “very therapeutic” for herself through her years of growing up. But music is also prayerful, and draws her close to God—faith and singing go together for her.  She “comes to herself as a person” when she sings.

Mental health and ‘having faith’

Beth Downey Sawatzky
Focus on Mental Health | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 17, 2017

After retiring from professional service almost two years ago, Valentine (Val) Warkentin found she missed her work as a counsellor and accepted an invitation to volunteer at Canadian Mennonite University. Many kinds of mental illness only develop, or present for the first time, during a person’s teen years and early-twenties, which makes academic institutions dynamic and challenging contexts for her work. “The stresses and expectations in schools result in students being particularly vulnerable.

Being the church in an age of anxiety

Presenter Betty Pries of the L3 Group leads a workshop for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan pastors on ‘Being the church in the 21st century.’ She illustrates how individuals and congregations are wounded, yet those wounds can be places where God is allowed to enter. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Focus on Mental Health | By Donna Schulz | May 17, 2017

High anxiety is a characteristic of this age. Political and economic uncertainties abound, and electronic media, purported to help people connect with one another, actually seem to make them feel increasingly isolated.

These realities were the starting point for discussion as Mennonite Church Saskatchewan pastors explored what “Being the church in the 21st century” means. They met at Mount Royal Mennonite Church on April 28, 2017, for a one-day workshop with Betty Pries of the L3 consulting group.

When mental illness drops in at church

Donita Wiebe-Neufeld
Focus on Mental Health | By Donita Wiebe-Neufeld | May 17, 2017

Asked how many “walk-ins” looking for help at a church are likely to have a mental illness, pastors like Werner De Jong say “the majority, for sure.”

De Jong, pastor at Holyrood Mennonite Church in Edmonton, is often alone in the building when people wander in to ask for help. In fact, he leaves the door unlocked so they can find him. “The first thing I do is invite them into my office to talk with them,” he says. Invariably they ask for money, but money rarely helps [with their issues].”

One way your church can stop hiding mental illness

Like Jesus, we can pay attention to those who are dealing with mental illness, we can listen, we can pray, we can be part of that community of friends to surround them with healing presence, says April Yamasaki, pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church, Abbotsford, B.C. (MennoNerds.com photo)

Focus on Mental Health | By April Yamasaki | May 18, 2016 | 1 comment

Mental illness is not as obvious as a broken leg, but it’s just as real. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 20 percent of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. In one study, 84 percent of clergy say they have been approached by a suicidal person for help.

Mental health awareness incorporates art and poetry

This artwork illustrated the poem “You Crow” at Emmanuel Mennonite’s Mental Health Sunday. (Artwork by Dale Klippenstein)

Focus on Mental Health | By Amy Dueckman | May 18, 2016

Poetry and visual art proved to be a powerful combination as members of Emmanuel Mennonite Church observed Mental Health Sunday this year on May 1.

In 2015, Angelika Dawson, member of Emmanuel and communications manager for Communitas Supportive Care Society, helped develop worship resources for Communitas called “God of All Comfort: Mental Health Resources for Church Worship.” Communitas is a faith-based organization that ministers to British Columbians living with disabilities, both physical and mental.

Depression resurrection

Kathrina Redekop looks after herself, her family and her many interests in Stirling, Alta. Gardening, writing and music are her favourites. She is a member of Lethbridge Mennonite Church. (Photo courtesy of Kathrina Redekop)

Focus on Mental Health | By Kathrina Redekop | May 18, 2016

Today begins like any other, the type that has become common for me. I cheerfully get out of bed at a decent time, feed my children a healthy breakfast, tidy up and then do a boring 20 minutes on the elliptical machine while they begin their chores. It may not sound revolutionary, but I marvel at the grace contained in these everyday happenings.

Until almost three years ago, my life did not contain any calm or cheerfulness. Most days began with dread, a deadening wait for bedtime and the numbness of sleep if the nightmares stayed away.

‘We all need counsellors’

‘I often pray for my clients,’ says psychologist Theresa Driediger, who offers counselling services in Rosthern and Saskatoon, Sask. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Focus on Mental Health | By Donna Schulz | May 18, 2016

Theresa Driediger has been a counsellor for almost 30 years. “I think it’s a calling, or I wouldn’t still be doing it,” she says.

Helping to prevent suicide

Ken Reddig shares his story of mental illness with the adult Sunday school class at Tiefengrund Mennonite Church, north of Laird, Sask. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Focus on Mental Health | By Donna Schulz | May 18, 2016

It’s painful for Ken Reddig to tell his story, but he says, “If I can help prevent one loss, then it’s worth it.” Reddig spoke to the adult Sunday school class at Tiefengrund Mennonite Church, north of Laird, Sask., with guests from Laird and Eigenheim Mennonite churches also participating in the April 24 session.

Leaders being equipped to build up the church

Matt Antonio

Focus on Mental Health | By Beth Downey Sawatzky | May 18, 2016

Statistically, most mental illnesses show their first warning signs between the ages of 15 and 20—roughly the same age group encompassed by most church senior-youth programs. For this reason, those church members serving in youth ministry are both profoundly affected and on the vanguard of healing.

Niverville Community Fellowship, a Mennonite Church Manitoba congregation in the province’s rural southeast, has been making concerted efforts over the last five years or more to ensure that the training they provide for their youth leaders reflects this reality. It’s working.

‘There is love in this room’

Gord Alton and Alexa Winchell in Mannheim Mennonite Church’s ‘Living Room.’ (Photo by Dave Rogalsky)

Focus on Mental Health | By Dave Rogalsky | May 18, 2016

“Living Room Ministries” is a name coined by John E. Toews and Eleanor Loewen in the 1990s. In their book No Longer Alone: Mental Health and the Church (MennoMedia, 1995), they explore “the inter-relatedness of social, emotional, physical and spiritual selves; emotions that hurt or heal; depression; addictions; schizophrenia; grief; and suicide.” Their premise is that “just as we walk with persons who are physically ill, so we must learn to walk with those suffering mental illness.”