As a 2017 Doctoral of Ministry graduate from Apex School of Theology, my dissertation examined the attitudes of an Urban African American congregation toward adults ages 18-35 with mental illness. My hope was to benefit the church by increasing the membership and discipleship through involvement in the ministry of those with mental illness. Likewise, the purpose of my study was to benefit the church by helping to fulfill its mission “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the fulfillment of the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.” Matthew 28:19-20
I designed a replicable model that examined beliefs, and behaviors of an African-American faith community towards adults with disabilities. The research was a pilot of a multi-modal approach to incorporating members with disabilities into an inclusive context by educating parishioners about mental illness and disabilities while presenting the content from a faith-based perspective. The model comprised a series of three sermonic presentations, followed by a congregational survey, focus groups, and educational workshops, a webinar, and community outreach events.
Subsequently, I realized the reach of the African American church and pastor collectively has the potential to galvanize African Americans to positive mental health behavior change. Moreover, the church and faith communities are largely untapped resources for promoting healthy lifestyles among African Americans. This type of influence, faith-based and community-focused, signifies the value, trust, and credibility of the African American church and why it is often viewed as a change agent in the African American community.
In like manner, my research findings supported that there is an ongoing need for advocacy for individuals with mental health challenges who attend urban churches, as well as a need to continue to raise awareness about the social stigma these individuals encounter. Stigma has complex roots in society and often goes unnoticed and unaddressed. Stigma complicates the process of recovery for patients for many reasons and it also interferes with people’s willingness to seek professional help due to a fear of being labeled, misunderstood, or judged as having a lack of faith. While I was exploring issues with the church becoming more open to accepting mental illness in the church, I too had to explore and accept suicide and a deeper level of mental illness in my own family. The project served as a catalyst for healing conversations our family had not yet had. As a result, the project has assisted us in becoming transformational ministry leaders.
Furthermore, families with a member with mental illness often do not know where to turn for help. Understanding and coping with the illness, as well as the search for services and support, drains them spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. Often relationships with extended family members and friends are strained. The illness itself and the associated stigma of mental illness can lead to feelings of guilt, denial, grief, isolation, and loss of hope. People who live with mental illness are disproportionately impacted by the social injustices of prejudice, poverty, inadequate housing, unemployment or underemployment, lack of access to health care, especially mental health care, and inequalities within the criminal justice system.
Subsequently, throughout our 12 years of hosting the Emerging HOPE Mental Health Forum, we learned that people need a healing community, whereby they can receive support and unconditional love in several ways. Additionally, we learned that hurting people desired, most of all, to know that they were not alone, that someone else was willing to hear their story and will accept them just as much after they tell it. They needed to know that their pain did not mean God had turned His back on them.
Notably, the Forum was established to foster dialogue among a broad range of stakeholders—pastors, faith-based institutions, practitioners, policymakers, community members, recipients of services, and others—and to provide ongoing opportunities to confront issues of mutual interest and concern. Likewise, the Forum provided a neutral venue for broad-ranging discussions that aided in coordination and cooperation between public, faith-based, service recipients, and private stakeholders in eradicating the stigma of mental illness.
Incidentally, as a result of twelve years of diligently walking in obedience to God’s Word, we've made the soil fertile—we've laid out a strong foundation, we've prepared the soil and planted seeds. Yet, there's still lots of work to do ... Just as a garden needs constant tending, so does the topic of Mental Illness in Urban Church Settings. We take pride in the fact that our community has recently experienced an increase in African American churches and mental health agencies openly addressing the topic of Mental Illness. It is our hope that African American churches continue to seek ways to present factual Bible-based information about mental illness with the goal of correcting misinformation or contradicting negative attitudes and beliefs.
Of all the characters of the Old Testament, King David is the most closely related to Jesus Christ – not only as a forefather but as a ‘shadow’ or ‘type’ of Jesus to come. “Son of David” was the first title given to Jesus (Matt.1:1), and in one of his last statements, Jesus said, “I am the Root and Offspring of David” (Rev. 22:16). Acts 13:22 states that God “found David . . . a man after my own heart.” David certainly had amazing abilities: courage, strength, musical ability, and great leadership skills. But the quality of David’s character that most fully represents Jesus is found in the story recorded in 2 Samuel 9:1-13, the story of Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, grandson of Saul. David’s motivation in his actions toward Mephibosheth had nothing to do with elevating himself in the eyes of others. It was all about kindness, compassion, mercy – three of the translations of the Hebrew word khehsed, also translated “steadfast love” and “loving kindness” to represent God’s love. David initiated the relationship with Mephibosheth and did everything for him. In the same way, God initiates the relationship with each of us; Jesus said: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them” (John 6:44). David takes no notice of Mephibosheth’s disablement. He took him as he was. Back then, lameness was a social disgrace, a sin. Yet David regarded it not. All of us have entered this world crippled with sin. We can do nothing to remove this sin in our own strength. We are all Mephibosheths who experience the compassion of Jesus. He calls each of us by name.
Moreover, each of us has entered this world with some type of ailment. There are times in each of our lives that we may need a shoulder to lean on. More empathetically, it was our hope that the Forum served as that shoulder. Additionally, it goes without saying the gratitude that we feel as a result of the collaborative community partnership that has lasted over the last 12 years. Subsequently, our ministerial responsibilities have increased to the degree that we have decided to no longer host the Mental Health Forum. Therefore, 2019 was our last year hosting the Forum.
We are thankful that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ entrusted us with such great work. A work that resulted in us having to stretch outside of our comfort zones; to blindly cast our nets into deeper, often-times, unchartered waters! Nevertheless, the Lord undergirded us with His grace and mercy which resulted in our infectious, passionate vision coming to fruition time and time again.
Bear in mind, we will continue to champion the cause of Mental Health disparities; specifically, among African Americans. We are grateful to have partnered with the Greater Kalamazoo community as we worked tirelessly to accomplish our mission of inspiring others with a message of hope as we walk alongside them in their struggle and their silence with mental illness.
Click on the link below to read the 12th Annual Mental Health Forum (Newsletter)
Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program
12th Annual Mental Health Forum
April 27, 2019
9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3901 Emerald Drive, Kalamazoo, MI
REGISTER ONLINE AT: http://tinyurl.com/mentalhealthforum19
Event registration is $35 which includes lunch and all presentation materials.
WMU Continuing Education Credits will be offered for all presentations and the keynote address for a fee of $35.00.
The building is wheelchair accessible and is barrier-free.
The event location is on the Kalamazoo Metro Transit bus line. Egleston Bus - Route 8.
Limited Scholarships Available
WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
Faith-based organizations, mental health agencies, stakeholders, service providers, community members, anyone experiencing mental, emotional, social, an/or behavioral challenges, parents, caregivers, as well as workers in healthcare, mental health, juvenile justice, and child welfare.
This multi-cultural/multi-aged event was established to foster dialogue among a broad range of stakeholders—practitioners, policymakers, community members, recipients of services, and others—and to provide ongoing opportunities to confront issues of mutual interest and concern. Likewise, the Forum provides a neutral venue for broad-ranging discussions that can aid in coordination and cooperation between public, faith-based, service recipients, and private stakeholders in eradicating the stigma of mental illness specifically among people of color and disenfranchised populations.
THE CONFERENCE WILL OFFER THE FOLLOWING - KEYNOTE ADDRESS AND PRESENTATIONS:
Keynote Address - Supporting a Loved One with Mental Illness
Featuring DeLisa Rodney, CPCU, CLU. Mrs. Rodney is a Certified Personal Development Coach, CEO and Managing Principal of DeLisa Rodney and Associates, LLC. Cumming, GA. As a former National Alliance on Mental Illness Assistant Director, Ms. Rodney has helped others successfully navigate challenges and overcome personal and professional obstacles.
Getting More Men to Talk About Mental Health
Kevin Fischer, MA
Executive Director of NAMI Michigan, Lansing, M
How can parents/caregivers and service providers assist individuals with hidden disabilities?
Tamiko L. Garrett, MA, Ph.D. Candidate, Educational Leadership(emphasis on Administration), Eastern Michigan University, CEO/Founder of Parents for Transition, Kalamazoo, MI
Helping or Hurting: The Interconnected Mental Health of Women
Deborah Johnson Spence, PhD, LPC, ACS, SLP
Need to Talk Counseling Agency, Counselor, Southfield, MI
Religion, Culture and Mental Health
Can religiosity be used as a motivator rather than a barrier to mental health service?
Lisa A. Reeves, PhD, Author, Educational Consultant, and Entrepreneur, West Bloomfield, MI
Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Mental Health Care
Presenter: DeLisa Rodney, CPCU, CLU, Motivational Speaker, Certified Personal Development Coach. CEO and Managing Principal of DeLisa Rodney
and Associates, LLC, Cumming, GA
In Our Own Voice Speakers
The forum will also feature two powerful presentations from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) In Our Own Voice Speakers. The presentations will provide a personal perspective of mental illness, as presenters with actual experience talk openly about what it’s like to live with a mental health condition.
Please, let us know if you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you at the Forum!
Curtis and Dr. Pamela Robinson, Co-Directors, Emerging HOPE and the Emerging HOPE Board of Directors
Office Phone: 269-270-8770
Curtis and Dr. Pamela Robinson, Sr.
Emerging HOPE Co-directors
Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program
11th Annual Mental Health Forum
We would like to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for entrusting us with such great work; one that resulted in us having to stretch outside of our comfort zone and to cast our nets out into deeper, often-times, unchartered waters! God showed up and brought our infectious, passionate vision to fruition once again. This year we were honored to be able to host the forum at our beautiful-spacious office location, provide free event t-shirts, and offer added support to participants in the form of “Trigger Emotional Support People.”
The Forum was established to foster dialogue among a broad range of stakeholders—practitioners, policymakers, community members, recipients of services, and others—and to provide ongoing opportunities to confront issues of mutual interest and concern. Likewise, the Forum provides a neutral venue for broad-ranging discussions that can aid in coordination and cooperation between public, faith-based, service recipients, and private stakeholders in eradicating the stigma of mental illness.
We extend gratitude to the host of sponsoring vendors which included mental health agencies, health professional associations, faith-based groups, community pantries, and private-sector business; many whom we highlighted the extensive work that they have already done on this topic as forerunners advocating for those in our community with mental health challenges.
The sponsoring vendor booths consisted of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Kalamazoo, Disability Network of Southwest Michigan, HelpNet Bronson Employment Assistance Program (Battle Creek, M), Kalamazoo Youth Development Network, Kalamazoo Community Mental Health, Samaritas Battle Creek, Samaritas Kalamazoo, The Office of Senator O’Brien, Aetna Insurance, Recovery Institute of Southwest Michigan, Missional Chaplains, Alternatives, Gryphon Place, Edge Water Music Therapy|Thompson Tutoring, Sea Green Art Therapy and Loaves and Fishes.
The multi-cultural/multi-aged crowd consisted of clergy, mental health professional, lay people, and individuals and their family members who are living with mental illness and developmental disabilities, service providers, college students, parents, siblings, neighbors, and community members. Many lives were impacted by the information and personal testaments that were powerfully shared. People reported feeling safe to share their stories, empowered, validated, and most importantly understood.
We thank Ms. Latrise for her courage to share her powerful story of living a successful life with a mental health diagnosis and for the heartfelt-moving solo she rendered. Additional, we were equally as moved by Mr. Isaiah’s powerful testimony of a youth living successfully with a mental health diagnosis. It goes without saying, the bliss that was in the room as Mr. Calvin expressed his deep emotional healing through his therapeutic drumming and live artistry. Gratitude is extended to our Mistress of Ceremony, Mrs. Lesa Henry for a Par Excellent job. We sincerely thank the workshop facilitators, Reverend J. Barrett Lee, Monica Robinson and Kimberly Thorpe for presenting cutting-edge information to the participants.
Likewise, we thank our majestic keynote speaker, Kevin Fischer, Executive Director of NAMI Michigan, for the powerful, transforming address (which literally brought most everyone to tears). Furthermore, we extend thanks to our youth volunteers Young Queens and Kings and adult volunteers from Volunteer Kalamazoo, and Western Michigan University Lee's Honors College. Additional, we are honored to have been featured as guest of on WWMT Channel 3 that conducted interviews and recorded portions of the forum live. Moreover, we appreciate Public Media Network (PMN) diligence in recording the forum and interviewing select guest for a documentary that they are creating that will highlight the last 11 years of the Mental Health Forum. It will air on PMN channels 187-191 and At&T Channel 99 later this month and next month. Please check the PMN website for specific airing times.
Moreover, we thank our many sponsors for providing the food items, condiments, media materials, and monetary donations.
Meijer 5121 S. Westnedge Ave. Westnedge
Harding’s Market Place, 6330 S. Westnedge
Express Auto, Henry Ghazel
MacKenzie's Cafe & Bakery
Living Water Ministries
Artwear Apparel Graphics Inc - T-shirt Donation and Design
Last but not least, we extend gratitude to the Emerging HOPE Board Members
Reverend J. Barrett Lee
Reverend Rachel Meier Laughlin, Senior Pastor - Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
Mrs. Celeste Tyree
Turnera Croom Dvm, Founder, President at VetsIn3D.com
The data that will be compiled from participant surveys will be presented to our state and local officials to draw attention to existing federal, state, and local policies and protocols for crisis standards of care; to present potential solutions to some of the most difficult challenges such as the proposal to eventually move $2.5 billion of Community Mental Health Medicaid money and service management to private insurers in the state's Medicaid Health Plans.
We are grateful to partner with the Greater Kalamazoo community as we work tirelessly to accomplish our mission of inspiring others with a message of hope as we walk alongside them in their struggle and their silence with mental illness.
Emerging HOPE Ninth Annual Mental Health Forum
In collaboration with the 2017, Western Michigan University MLK Community-Wide Celebration Emerging HOPE Family Strengthening Program will host its 10th Annual Mental Health Forum.
There is a great need to spread the word that mental illness occurs among men and women of all ages, that it crosses all racial, ethnic and religious lines, and that it occurs at all economic levels of society. We also know that the general public needs to be more aware of the facts about mental illness. The stigma surrounding them must be erased so that individuals and families are comfortable seeking help just as they would for a physical illness.
Emerging HOPE host the Mental Health Forum to provide a place where the individuals, groups, and organizations can come together in Kalamazoo to share information and ideas on the importance eradicating the stigma of mental illness.
Please join with us to accomplish our mission of inspiring others with a message of hope as we walk alongside them in their struggle with mental illness.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
11:00am to 4:30 p.m.
VanDuesen Room, Kalamazoo Public Library, downtown branch
A light lunch will be provided
Mental health agency booths will be set-up at the location allowing participants to view the agency display booths, talk with mental health providers, and gather information.
Three State Continuing Education Clock Hours and/or Three WMU Continuing Education Units will be offered for all workshops and keynote address. There is a fee for both SCECHs and WMU CEUs of $15 each per participant. Registration is $25 with limited scholarships available. Agency Booth rental $50 with one free registration upon payment. Payment for the forum: paypal.me/emerginghopefsp.
Who Should Attend:
Faith-based communities, mental health agencies, stakeholders, service providers, community members, and individuals/families with mental illness.
Following the keynote speaker participants can choose from one of three educational workshops to attend. Workshops are listed below:
Can you see me? A Clergy's Response to Mental Health in the African American Church
Facilitator: Karika A. Parker, MA, Ph.D. candidate, Educational Leadership: Higher Education and Organizational Analysis, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan
“It's a White Thing”: An Exploration of Beliefs about Suicide in the African-American Community
Facilitator: Pamela R. Robinson, BSW, LLMSW, MDiv., Doctorate of Ministry Degree candidate, Apex School of Theology, Durham, North Carolina
African American Males and Mental Illness
Facilitator: Curtis Robinson, Sr., CRC, PSS, A.C.E. B.Th. Candidate,
Apex School of Theology, Durham, North Carolina
The forum will also feature two power presenters that have lived with and/or have loved ones with mental illness. Ms. Brandi Bonner and Mrs. Gail Urso, Founder/Codirector of Kevin’s Song ~ A charitable organization dedicated to generating public awareness about the causes of suicide, its prevalence in our society and possible preventive measures. kevinssong.org/
To register, visit surveymonkey.com/s/XQ9LPK7
Promotional Video for the 9th Annual Emerging HOPE Mental Health Forum, April 2016 on YouTube. Our next Emerging HOPE Mental Health Forum, April 14, 2018, will build on this successful event. We hope you will join us.
Emerging HOPE has hosted Nine Annual Mental Health Forums at strategic locations in Kalamazoo County. The aim of the Mental Health Forums is to decrease mental health stigma and increase awareness of mental health recovery. The Robinson’s believe with the right tools; everyone can be an advocate for individuals to access needed resources. They desire to inspire others with a message of hope and walk alongside them in their struggle with mental illness.
One in four adults, approximately 61.5 million Americans, experience mental illness in a given year. One in 17, about 13.6 million, live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder. Approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. (more common than homicide) and the third leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24 years. More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide had one or more mental disorders. Early identification and treatment are of vital importance. Stigma keeps many from seeking help. Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.
The onset and subsequent diagnosis of mental illness impacts families as well as the individual. Families with a member with mental illness and developmental disabilities often do not know where to turn for help. Understanding and coping with the illness, as well as the search for services and support, drains them spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially. Often relationships with extended family members and friends are strained. The illness itself and the associated stigma of mental illness can lead to feelings of guilt, denial, grief, isolation, and loss of hope. People who live with mental illness are disproportionately impacted by the social injustices of prejudice, poverty, inadequate housing, unemployment or underemployment, lack of access to health care, especially mental health care, and inequalities within the criminal justice system.
As a healing community we can support people with mental illness and their families with unconditional love in a number of ways:
Increasing our awareness of mental illness and its impact on the lives of individuals and their families.
Identifying mental health resources and services in the community.
Offering prayers for and support to individuals and families.
Creating ministries of spiritual support.
Serving on church committees for outreach to individuals and families.
Getting involved in peer-to-peer ministry and advocating for mental health issues.
More Americans are seeking mental health treatment:
According to Curtis Robinson, Emerging HOPE Co-Director, "We've executed progress in people's attitudes toward getting mental health treatment or seeking it for their loved ones," however, "But cost, lack of insurance and access still can be barriers for people in getting the help they need."
Respondents to the poll-- an online survey of 300 randomly selected recipients between the ages of 18 and 64 of the Emerging HOPE Mental Forums, pointed to cost, lack of confidence that treatment helps and lack of health insurance as treatment barriers.
Moreover, 50% reported that stigma about seeking mental health treatment is increasingly less of an obstacle to getting treatment. Indeed, 48 percent of those polled reported a visit to a mental health professional by someone in their household this last year, and more than nine out of 10--91 percent--said they would likely consult or recommend a mental health professional if they or a family member were experiencing a problem. The survey also found that: Eighty-five percent of respondents thought that health insurance should cover mental health services. Ninety-seven percent of respondents considered access to mental health services "important," but only 70 percent feel they have adequate access to mental health care. Only 30 percent of respondents were concerned about other people finding out if they sought mental health treatment, and 20 percent said that stigma is "a very important reason not to seek help" from a mental health professional. Nearly half of those polled--47 percent--said that the stigma surrounding mental health services has decreased in recent years.
Click on this paragraph to read recommendations that were presented to our local, federal, and state legislators. We hope that your voices and the voices of your friends and family will be heard as we to urge legislators to maintain and to increase funding in the Federal and State funding levels for people with mental illness and developmental disabilities.
We would like to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for entrusting us with such a great work; one that resulted in us having to stretch outside of our comfort zone and to cast our nets out into deeper, often-times, unchartered waters! Yet, God showed up and brought our infectious, passionate vision to fruition.
We would also like to thank the greater Kalamazoo Community, specifically the conglomerate of mental health agencies (Kalamazoo County Community Mental Health, MRC Pathways, NAMI of Kalamazoo, Gryphon Place, Family Health Center, Disability Resource Center, Kalamazoo Home Health, North Presbyterian Church) that partnered with us this year to help make the 9th Annual Emerging HOPE Mental Health Forum an overwhelming success.
The multi-cultural crowd consisted of clergy, mental health professional, lay people, and individuals and their family members who are living with mental illness and/or developmental disabilities, service providers, college students, parents, siblings, neighbors, and community members. Many lives were impacted by the information and personal testaments that were powerfully shared. The evaluation results reflect common themes of appreciation for the information shared, appreciation for the forum host valuing their mental health - to the degree that they have hosted nine mental health forums, individuals feeling safe to share their feelings, individuals being empowered, validated, and most importantly understood.
We thank Ms. Vanessal for her courage to share her powerful story of living a successful life with a mental health diagnosis, “My Journey Back to Everyday Life.” Gratitude is extended to our Mistress of Ceremony, Mona Watson for a Par Excellent job. We sincerely thank the workshop facilitators, Reverend J. Barrett Lee, Michele McGowen and Cheryl Owens-Nebedum for presenting cutting-edge information to the participants, likewise, we thank to our majestic Keynote Speaker, Reverend Joan, volunteers Jermaine Harris, Tehla Reece, and Florence Powe; our nephew Pastor LaQundo Minor and his wife Evangelist Thanika, and the Northside Ministerial Alliance for your diligence in helping to promote the event. Moreover, we'd like to thank Howard and Robyn Robinson host of 1560 The Touch Radio for annoucing the event over the airways. Additional, we are honored to have been featured as guest of Earlene McMichael, reporter with National Public Radio (NPR) as we passionately shared about the upcoming event with her listensing audience. We extend gratitude to the many mental health professional who set-up informational agency booths at the forum. Moreover, we appreciate Vanne Burch of VisualTechnologyLtd for creating the powerful promotional You-tube video
Moreover, we thank our many sponsors for providing the food items, condiments, media materials, and monetary donations. And we express thanks to Lenise Vaughan for serving as the caterer for the delicious lunch. Please stay tuned to our website at http://www.emerginghopefsp.org/ for professional photographs that were taken by Memories with Christina Ne'Cole Photography and for a YouTube documentary that is being created by Jermaine Harris and VisualTechnologyLtd.