Faith Works 3-2-13
Believe you can feel better
Last week I said that "Mental health and religion are often uneasy residents of a ramshackle duplex." I could have said mansion!
Both are, I'd argue, are simply part of the same complex set of supports and trusses and gables and dormers, all woven together structurally into the same shelter in which lives our community. Go in whatever architectural direction you think right.
What I want to make clear is that I pray for people who are struggling with issues of addiction and depression and anxiety, but I also look for skilled practitioners to bring onto the team. If someone comes in with a large growth on their body, or unexplained bleeding that won't stop, I don't stop praying, but I do it as we rush to the hospital. Mental health, for this pastor, is part of the same response.
So for instance, and I think this is most important, if someone reports to me that they are considering suicide, or threatening harm in any way to themselves or others, I'm not going to rest easy until I've made sure there are other trained professionals involved, no matter how effective prayer might ease the immediate self-reported symptoms.
How to do this? Well, there is always, and I do mean ALWAYS, 2-1-1. Too many still don't know that you can pick up the phone and dial 2-1-1 for a personal emergency in the same way you'd dial 9-1-1 for a police, fire, or other public crisis or disaster (if you need police, fire, or immediate medical assistance, call 9-1-1).
You may recall Pathways of Central Ohio in our county as the Crisis Center, and you may still remember 345-HELP (which you can still dial, 345-4357), but their number is now 2-1-1, and if you are dealing with a personal crisis of any sort, from everyday despair to practical problems ranging from housing to helplessness, call 2-1-1. The trained staff who answer that line will connect you to where you need to go.
They may well invite you to go to the nearest emergency room. ERs are not necessarily the best place to go if you're simply sad or blue, but if you are feeling that you or someone near you is heading into a dangerously dark place, and you call me, I might just say myself "Hey, can I meet you at the ER?"
An assessment at the ER can involve specially trained staff who will involve our county emergency mental health support, which is provided through Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio (formerly known as Moundbuilders Guidance Center). They do our county crisis intervention for emergency mental health and alcohol/drug crisis situations; you can call them directly, weekdays, at 522-8477 or night and weekends you call . . . yep, 2-1-1.
Perhaps you're just feeling like the world is closing in on you, life is appearing grim and sorrowful, and you – or someone you know – needs to talk to someone. Or you're a pastor or church leader, and you've met with and prayed with someone, and you can tell that there's a desire for hope, but a struggle to actually feel anything other than sadness and sorrow.
Honestly, you can still call 2-1-1. Just talk to the person on the other end of the line. They welcome your call, and know how to guide you. You can call BHPCO at 522-8477 during regular business hours, again whether sufferer or caregiver, and ask what to do. And you can also call directly our Licking & Knox County co-ordinating body, the Mental Health & Recovery offices, 522-1234 (easy enough to remember in a pinch!) and talk to the Clinical Director there. Todd will be happy to help you!
If you are just muddled about mental health, and are looking for clarity, or help of a more general nature, you can call the folks at Mental Health America of Licking County at 522-1341. Even if you just look at their website at www.mhalc.org you can find online screenings, and information about support groups and programs that deal with all sorts of angles having to do with mental and behavioral health.
And finally, if you're already in recovery or living with a mental illness, you should know about The Main Place, whether online at www.themainplace.org or on South Third Street in downtown Newark. "Promoting Hope, Providing Tools, Removing Barriers" is their mission statement, and it's a good summary of what they do.
(What I've offered up here doesn't deal directly with addiction & recovery; that's an area I plan to discuss in the third and final part of this series next Saturday.)
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's interested in a community based approach to mental health & wholeness. Tell him what makes you feel whole at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Knapsack.