Be a Lighthouse in the Storm: Mental Health Week

Be a Lighthouse in the Storm: Mental Health Week

Be “a lighthouse in their child’s storm, the light that shines steadily in a predictable rhythm and doesn’t waver no matter how big the storm is.”  This is the advice Stanford Children’s Health pediatric and adolescent psychologist Elizabeth Reichert, PhD, gave parents to help children, teens and even adults who are feeling uneasy about returning to school and work settings with people from outside their safe circle.

The first step to managing stress and anxiety in our lives is to recognize how we respond in our bodies, then we can use coping skills to stay well.  Do you or your children feel nausea or pain in the stomach, get headaches, or a sore back, neck, or shoulders?  Does your heart race? Do you feel irritable? Is your teen withdrawing from activities? Are you drinking more alcohol or misusing other substances? These are all signs of anxiety and stress. Listening to our children and teens is one way parents can help to really learn what may be at the root of the anxiety. Sometimes just being able to talk about one’s feelings makes it easier to cope.  Another way we can help is by modeling coping strategies by going for a walk, getting a drink of water, taking some deep breaths, or finding a brief activity to relieve stress. If the anxiety is overwhelming, a parent may reach out to the teacher, school, or healthcare provider.

My Hero is You: How kids can fight COVID-19 is a free book for children published in 2020 by The Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC MHPSS RG). In this story a character called Ario helped a child named Sara spread the word about handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks. This September the second book in this series was released, My Hero is You 2021: How kids can hope with COVID-19. The story continues with Ario and Tiger, a cat.  Here is an excerpt.
“I need hope,” said Tiger from behind his tail. “After COVID-19, and all these long, lonely days, I need hope for the future. “Well, that’s not big,” said Ario. “Hope can start very small. But if you hold onto it, it can grow and grow and grow. Hope is all around us. You just need to find a little piece to get started.”
Isn’t a lighthouse a sign of hope? We the church can be a lighthouse to help parents and their children cope and hope as the pandemic continues.  We can give strength to parents through community. We can share the light and love of Jesus wherever we worship, wherever we go.
Stress and anxiety one type of mental health concern.  One in 5 Americans lives with a diagnosed mental illness. Of the youth in the juvenile justice system 70 % have mental illness. The church can be a beacon of light in the lives of families, individual’s communities, and the world.

Let’s spread the word about Mental Health Awareness Week October 3-10.
Here are some suggestions to help you share the word to reduce the stigma of Mental illness and promote mental health.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Mental Illness Awareness Week: October 3 - 9, 2021
Watch the Videos on Mental Health Disorders such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder to hear people living with the challenges of mental illness describe what they wish people knew.

Special Dates 5 Questions: Elizabeth Reichert on Handling Back-to-School Anxiety in a Pandemic
Stanford Children’s Health
pediatric and adolescent psychologist Elizabeth Reichert, PhD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
Mental Health Foundation


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Debbie Ringen

Debbie Ringen supports the Conference vision to make God’s love and justice real through wellness ministry at the Conference and local church level. In addition to providing resources, educational workshops, blogs and networking opportunities, she is...

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