May Was Mental Awareness Month. One Last Guest Post and Share By Tony Roberts. No Needs To Suffer Alone.

May Was Mental Awareness Month. One Last Guest Post and Share By Tony Roberts. No Needs To Suffer Alone.

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS NEEDS TO BE ALL YEAR

Mental Illness on The Streets
By Tony Roberts
Of
“Delight In Disorder Blog”

…….

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”  (Matthew 8:20)

 

Jesus understood what it is like to be without a home.  Yes, he was a Rabbi supported by the financial contributions of his followers, but he was also a wandering soul at the mercy of the hospitality or rejection of strangers. Masses moved from jubilant shouts of “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!!” to vehement cries, “Crucify him!” From a divine perspective, the homelessness of Christ was part of his mission. But this certainly didn’t lessen his human suffering.

Jesus teaches us that if we want to follow him, we too will take up crosses such as he did. This has meant many things for Christians throughout the ages —  from verbal harassment to capital punishment, and everything in between. The Apostle Paul and his companions certainly knew sacrificial hardship. He writes:

 

To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.  (1 Corinthians 4.11)

 

Homelessness? Jesus gets it. Paul gets it. But does this offer any hope to any of the 150 million people in the world who are homeless today?

The first step to shining the light of Gospel hope is to better grasp the darkness. What causes a person to become homeless?  Marjorie Baldwin suggests it can be many things:

 

What is the underlying problem? There are numerous factors that may lead to homelessness (e.g. domestic violencesubstance abuse, unemployment), but one of the most important is untreated mental illness. Estimates suggest that, nationwide, one-third of homeless persons have a serious mental illness (SMI). In some places, the proportion of mentally ill among the homeless is even greater: 70% in Roanoke, Virginia (2007) and 67% in Colorado Springs (2009). [Torrey 2014; TAC 2015] Most homeless people with serious mental illness are not receiving treatment; many do not even know they are ill. (“Homeless, Mentally Ill, and Neglected”).

 

The vast number of homeless persons in the U.S. who have a mental illness is a travesty, an indictment on a nation who fooled itself into believing that the best way to treat brain-sick patients was to dope them up with psychotropics, kick them out of advanced hospitals and expect community-based homes to magically appear which would offer expert care medical, psychological, physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and relational such that healing might happen.

It hasn’t.

That is the darkness. So where is the ray of hope? I’d like to shine three points of light.

……

 

1.  Food 4 Souls is shining a light in the midst of homeless camps in Indianapolis, Indiana. Their vision is:

 

We exist to go out and serve our homeless community with unconditional love and acceptance by providing Hope in ChristMeeting Daily Needs andAligning Resources to those who are ready to move into a life beyond homelessness.

 

Community Relations Director Dawn Adams shared a story on an episode of the podcast Revealing Voices about “L.A.” she met sequestered at a far-end of one of the homeless camps. She called out for him, but he wouldn’t budge. She told him she would leave a meal and be back the following week.

The next week, she returned. Same thing. Call out. No response. Leave meal. Promise to be back.

This went on for some time. L.A. finally came out to meet her. He was still reserved but opened up more each week. Dawn came week after week. Month after month. Year after year. She said in time L.A. revealed estrangement, emotional wounds, spiritual scars. Dawn stressed that she is not a mental health expert, but she saw that L.A. got the help he needed. Dawn offered L.A. something beyond what his essential care providers could. She became his friend.

We asked if Dawn still sees L.A.. She smiled and answered yes. But not on the streets. He has an apartment of his own now. They meet for coffee at Starbucks.

 

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.  (Matthew 25:40)

 

2. Mental Illness Policy.org offers “unbiased information for policymakers and media.” In an age of relative truth and fake news, this is a very bold claim. Founder D.J. Jaffe provides here a vast clearinghouse of resources on mental illness past, present, and future. An advocate since 1980, it seems he has yet to lose any passion for drawing attention to the needs of those who are too often overlooked.

Jaffe’s articles and recommendations have been published in numerous magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review, Forbes. He has appeared on national news broadcasts explaining issues surrounding mental illness and violence. Federal, state and local policymakers have solicited and relied on his scholarship. He is widely credited as the primary mover behind Kendra’s Law, New York state legislation that allows judges to mandate treatment for people with serious mental illness and a history of violence.

Jaffe is the author of Insane Consequences: How The Mental Health Industry Fails The Mentally Ill (Prometheus Books, 2017).

The thing I admire most about Jaffe and the reason I support Mental Illness.org is that he refuses to accept conventional myths that those of us with mental illness always know and can accomplish what is best for us. Hard experiential evidence and emerging scientific discoveries demonstrate that we are often our own worst enemies. Our minds betray us. We need rational laws and reasonable resources that protect us and others from our illness.

 

3.  Kennedy-Krieger Institute has a mission:

 

“To transform the lives of children with disorders of the brain through groundbreaking research, innovative treatments, and life-changing education.”

 

And their vision is:

 

“Discoveries of how the brain develops and functions are occurring at an accelerating pace. The Kennedy Krieger Institute leads the way in translating these scientific advances into new therapies and educational interventions, while providing an inspirational environment for training tomorrow’s leaders in the field. These successes benefit millions of children and families around the world.”

 

The reason I’m highlighting Kennedy-Krieger is simple. His name is Jacob.

Jacob was born with Down syndrome. Like many persons with this unique genetic profile, Jacob brought joy into the world and shared delight with everyone he met. He was the life of the party.

I say was because when he hit puberty, he collapsed. Literally. He went into a comatose-like state where all he would do is lie on the ground. He only got up to eat and void. His parents, Don and Joyce, were advised to take him to Kennedy-Krieger at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. There they met Dr. George Capone who, by his own admission, guessed what was going on.

Dr. Capone had heard of a study from the University of Missouri of 12 similar cases. They had gained approval for and administered experimental treatment. Out of the 12; five got better, five stayed the same, and three regressed.

Don asked Dr. Capone if he recommended the treatment and if so, could he provide it. Dr. Capone said he could not.  Don told me there was something calculated in his facial expression when he said, “I can not.” What did he mean? Don wondered.  I don’t recommend it? It’s not my specialty? Maybe even, Kennedy-Krieger has yet to approve it?

At any rate, it didn’t happen. Jacob would endure another 5 years of a state of catatonia where he seemed to be living in another world.

But that’s not the end of the story. Research on the treatment expanded, much conducted by Kennedy-Krieger and similar institutions. Many successes were reported, some dramatic. The treatment went from becoming experimental to being recommended. Even by Dr. Capone. Don and Joyce decided to give it a shot.

Jacob is now 18. His teachers say he is making amazing progress. His principal, who has known Jacob since kindergarten, says glimpses of his exuberant joy are back. Jacob is ready to launch into the world and share his delight with others.

 

Homelessness is not so much about a lack of housing as it is a lack of mental health care. We combat homeless when we become friends fight for better laws and support research for a cure.

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Sharing My Friend Tony Roberts and His Inspiring Blog and Website: “Delight In Disorder”…Org

Sharing My Friend Tony Roberts and His Inspiring Blog and Website: “Delight In Disorder”…Org

I always get “Delight” in having and sharing my dear friend, author, and advocate Tony Roberts and his informative blog at  “Delight In Disorder” all about Mental Health.

He shares just how he feels and experiences as he raises awareness about living with mental health challenges. Also, way more than I do. He has such a beautiful heart and is full of faith as well. So I happened to really enjoy a couple of his recent posts and I know many of you will too and benefit from. I am hoping you will take a little time to visit his blog and give both a “Finishing Read.” They both are excellent topics and we all know that reading is being “In The Know and Powerful.”

 

“Fresh Hope for Mental Health Interview” ~By Tony Roberts

.

 

A few weeks back, I received an unexpected message from Pastor Brad Hoefs from Fresh Hope for Mental Health. Fresh Hope is a mental health ministry that reaches out with an uplifting Gospel message for those who are often cast down. Their mission is to “empower individuals to live a full and rich faith-filled life in spite of a mental health diagnosis.” Toward this end, they have developed curriculum for support groups around the country, they are producing webinars on such topics as “What I Wish My Pastor Knew About Mental Health,” and distribute a podcast that is one of the best of its kind.


Pastor Brad reached out to me to be a guest on this podcast. Below is the link to the program and the show notes:

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Pastor Brad interviews Pastor Tony Roberts.

Pastor Tony Roberts was born and raised in the Hoosier heartland just south of Indianapolis. He grew up worshiping high school basketball and once had the honor of playing in a televised “game of the week.”

Tony went to Hanover College. After many detours into sex, drugs, and more folk rock than roll, he wound up at the seminary and became a pastor. It was then that symptoms of depression and mania culminated in a psychotic episode that became pivotal in his life, for better and for worse.

After graduating from Hanover, Tony obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. While there, he did ministry assignments at a state hospital for persons with developmental disabilities, as well as at a women’s prison, and inner-city hospital.

Tony served two decades as a solo pastor. He then shifted to writing, speaking, and leading small groups. In March of 2014, Tony published his spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. Having served in pastoral ministry and gone mad, it’s now his mission to bridge the gap between faith communities and the mental health world.

Tony now live in Columbus, Indiana, with supportive family and faithful friends who keep me honest and encourage me to be who God created him to be. Tony’s greatest earthly delights are my four children and two grandchildren, with one more on the way.

############

 

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; 

in the morning I lay my requests before you 

     and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)

 

 

Why I Don’t Go to Church

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46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2.46-47)

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, early Christians were on fire. They worshiped daily, shared meals bountifully, praised God delightfully, and built a reputation for loving each other and others with precious passion and compassion. They were filled with a spiritual fervor that knew no end.

+          +          +

I have had such spiritual fervor. What has happened to my faith?

I went to church this morning, the first time in a long while. For various reasons, I have been absent from the pews much of the year. I have many excellent explanations, but no good excuses. My faith family has been patient with me. More than this, they persistently care in spite of it.

People still stay in touch, frequently send texts or emails not to badger me about coming to church, but to ask how I am doing, let me know that they are praying for me, and offer to help in any way they can. No pressure. No guilt. Just checking in with a brother in Christ to express love and concern. As one sincerely expressed, “We are more concerned with how you are than where you are on Sunday morning.”

As I sat in the pew today, I thought of brothers in Christ who make a difference in my faith.

Some time ago. I asked a brother, Sam S., to serve as my prayer partner. We meet every two weeks to do a Bible study book. We share casual concerns, deep joys, and requests for discernment. I have shared with Sam specific spiritual concerns and he is intent to pray for me, particularly over the weekend, that I might be motivated to come to worship in the fellowship of saints.

Sam is the song leader at our church. His deep melodious sound rings out and surrounds the sanctuary with ancient Psalms, the songs Jesus sang, set to classic church tunes. When my soul is most troubled, I sometimes remain in my pew as people stand and, instead of singing along, streams of tears will flow down my cheeks as I hide my face in my Psalter.

Then there is Gary M, an elder. When I first visited Columbus Reformed Presbyterian (CRPC), Gary was quick to introduce himself and invite me to a weekly fellowship called the Grub-In. We would meet at Gary and his wife Cynthia’s home for food, study, song, and prayer. It meant so much to me when I was going through a separation and divorce to have another faith family I could depend on to pick me up when I was down and set me straight when I veered off course.

Pastor Andy M. is an unassuming man with an abiding faith and a gentle spirit. I have consulted him on a variety of issues, from marriage and divorce, finances, writing. I consistently find him to have an informed Biblical perspective which he shares humbly in the Spirit of truth and love.

Lately, I’ve come to know and appreciate Roger G. for his quiet support and kind encouragement. This morning he shared with me that he enjoyed my recent post on writing. It is such a blessing to know Roger and other men and women of faith are out there, reading things like this, smiling in recognition as if to say, “I get that.”

So, what has become of my faith?

 

I refuse to believe it is God’s fault. I am not angry at God for letting me down in some way. It is not the fault of the church. By and large, pastors and people in the pews are no more hypocritical than persons in the world who accuse them to be. I can’t blame it on the many distractions or worries; my illness is an inadequate explanation at best; I have no unresolved sin conflict in my life that would prevent me from presenting myself before God with a clear conscience.

 

What is it? Why have I lost my fervor for fellowship? My drive to worship? My passion for praise? What has become of my faith?
Well, I hope you will stop by Tony’s Blog and read WHY and the rest of this post!

Catherine Lyon, Author, and Advocate

 

Why I Don’t Go to Church

 

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