Mental Health Awareness Initiative

Rt. Rev. Dr. Staccato Powell, Bishop
Ms. S. Nicole Powell, Missionary Supervisor


An Initiative of the W.E.D. W.H.&O.M.S.


WHO WE ARE

The Mental Health Awareness Initiative (MHAI) of the Western Episcopal District (WED) was  launched in September 2016 by the newly elected Bishop Staccato Powell and Missionary  Supervisor S. Nicole Powell as an Initiative of the Women’s Home and Overseas Missionary Society  (WH&OMS).

The MHAI exists to make a difference in the lives of our communities, from the inside out. It is our prayer that as we strive to reach out and touch our communities through this Initiative, we are simultaneously reaching inward to uplift and support each other in our own churches and families.

The MHAI consists of numerous ministry activities that are encompassed in three broad categories:

  • Mental Health Education and Training
  • Community Service and Outreach
  • Mental Health Facility Development and Service Delivery

WHY WE ARE

Stigma surrounding mental health conditions and mental health treatment is ever present in faith communities. Still, individuals and families afflicted by such conditions are constantly seeking refuge and guidance from communities of faith. Mental health quick facts for Why We Are:

  • Poverty in childhood is associated with lower school achievement; worse cognitive, behavioral, and attention- related outcomes; higher rates of delinquency, depressive and anxiety disorders; and higher rates of almost every psychiatric disorder in adulthood (Psychiatric Times).
  • Major Depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Post- traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are some of the most severe conditions affecting African Americans (NAMI).
  • Barriers to seeking mental health care include: homelessness, stigma toward mental illness and mental health care, inequality of care, under-representation of people of color in the healthcare system, mistrust of health systems, community violence, and poverty (NAMI).
  • Physical health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart conditions are correlated with mental illness and mental health outcomes.

WHAT WE DO

EDUCATION & TRAINING: The MHAI team distributes mental health information and resources monthly to every local church covering areas of mental health including, but not limited to Autism Awareness, Pastoral Self Care, Substance Abuse, Domestic Violence, and Teen Pregnancy. Past areas of focus included Depression, Child Abuse, PTSD, Teen Suicide, and Homelessness. Workshops and seminars are also offered on a consistent basis. Past workshops included “Intro to Mental Health First Aid”, “Mental Health & Law Enforcement”, and “Clothed and In My Right Mind: What Mental Illness is, Isn’t, & What the Church Can Do About it.”

COMMUNITY SERVICE & OUTREACH: Missionary Mass Meetings (quarterly) and Annual Conferences are the central launching pads for large-scale ministry activities. Past projects included a Mobile Prayer Breakfast for the homeless, Community Carnival and Mental Health Fair, donation drives for women’s and homeless shelters, and a mental health booth with brief mental health screenings in an urban downtown city center and business district.

MENTAL HEALTH FACILITY DEVELOPMENT & SERVICE DELIVERY: The WED is establishing Mental Health Resource Rooms in each local church that provide free referral and supportive services to the community. Services are provided through volunteers from local training programs, agencies, organizations, and/or licensed practitioners.


WHERE WE’RE GOING

The MHAI intends to expand its influence beyond the WED. It is expected that the MHAI will become a national Initiative of the AME Zion Church as well as other denominations. Additionally, the MHAI will make its footprint on a macro level, embedding itself and its operations into the broader fabric of society.

Establishing Mental Health Resource Rooms is a major catalyst in this process. Within the next few years, Resource Rooms are expected to expand to onsite full-service clinics. Since communities of color often rely on faith/spiritual communities for support and guidance with health issues, having these clinics in place will help to increase healthcare system utilization, reduce stigma toward mental health, reduce the onset and progression of mental illness, and improve the quality of life for communities by creating stronger, more effective alliances between communities, the church, and the healthcare system.

The incoming WED headquarters will aid in the overall goal of MHAI ministry expansion by housing a number of mental health facilities, including inpatient and outpatient treatment centers.


MEET THE MHAI TEAM!

S. NICOLE POWELL, MSW
Missionary Supervisor
Western Episcopal District
Bio

RESHALE L. THOMAS, PsyD, MATM
LICENSED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST
MHAI Mental Health Coordinator/ Chief Implementation Officer
Bio

 

IMPLEMENTATION TEAM

REGINA J. BANKS, MSW, PsyD STUDENT
Implementation Team Member
Assistant to Chief Implementation Officer,
Mental Health Education Director

MYISHA REED, BA, MPH STUDENT
Implementation Team Member
Quality Assurance & Outcomes Specialist

SANDRA K. DAVIS, PhD, RN
Implementation Team Member
Operations Consultant

WESTERN EPISCOPAL DISTRICT MENTAL HEALTH COORDINATORS

DOMINIQUE PAYNE, BA, MSW STUDENT
Mental Health Coordinator,
Colorado Conference

ELIZABETH McNEAL, MSW
Mental Health Coordinator,
Oregon-Washington Conference

SCHERMOAN FOUNDOE-RAYMOND, MSN-RN, DOCTORAL STUDENT
Mental Health Coordinator,
Alaska Conference

REV. KAREN L. OWENS, MA, MDiv, DMin CANDIDATE, CLINICAL CHAPLAIN
Mental Health Coordinator,
Southwest Rocky Mountain Conference