HomeNewsNationalMental Health Summit Strives...

Mental Health Summit Strives to End Stigmas and Offer Hope

When my brother died by suicide five years ago, we were speechless. Despite the ways he struggled personally, we never considered suicide as a possibility for him. In an instant, mental health became more real to me.

My opinions, preconceived ideas, and stigmas changed. Before his death, I don’t remember any conversations I’d had about the topic. With the ever-rising suicide rates and the latest media attention surrounding suicide, there is an increased need to shine more light on mental health. Starting conversations about mental health and wellness are crucial to fighting against stigma and giving people the tools needed to identify signs and symptoms with their own loved ones.

The High Desert Mental Health Summit held at High Desert Church (HDC) last week aimed to gather and create a community of professionals, advocates, and those with life experience to start a conversation about mental health. Conference partners, St. Mary’s Community Health and HDC organized this conference geared toward medical professionals as well as the general public by introducing the new segmented format, which was a change from last year. The second half of the conference was free and open to the public while the first half was more specific to medical professionals and required a registration fee.

Additional presentations were made by counselors from the San Bernardino County Behavioral Health: Children & Youth Department and the Regional Administrator for Valley Star, Inc which is a crisis response center located in the high desert. These presentations proved that there are several mental health resources here in the high desert (Resources provided below).

Dr. Mike Marino began the conference with a discussion and tips for “helping as a helper”. His emphasis was on the mental health and wellness of those who are helping patients in crisis and how their own health greatly impacts the level of service they can provide. He ended his segment with a call to action: “Walk with them through suffering, but don’t take it away.” I thought he nailed it here. This is true even if you aren’t in the medical profession. We just want to “fix” it, don’t we? Take it all away and make it better? What Dr. Marino pointed out was that there are some good things in this life only suffering can bring. So, we just walk with them through it.

Panel discussions began as breakout sessions across the HDC campus. Attendees were able to choose from the following four-panel topics: Spirituality and Mental Health, Suicide: Signs and Support, Substance Abuse: Addiction and Mental Health, and Support Groups: How to Select, Start, and Sustain. I was a panel speaker for the Suicide: Signs and Support panel where we discussed the suicide crisis in our county and answered questions from the audience regarding their own experiences with suicide and mental health.

“Mental health struggles are a family affair.”

The Gym at HDC was filled with resource tables for all the services providers in the high desert. Many exhibitors donated their time to be there as a way to extend a hand and resources to those in need.

Dr. Marino came back to the stage to discuss how mental health struggles are a “family affair.” This was such an important discussion on how having a family member with a mental illness can cause tension within a family. The most beautiful point that Dr. Marino touched on was ways to simplify your life as much as possible. Let love be the banner for your family and take unnecessary obligations from your plate. I just love this because I can envision a family working together as a team and rallying around each other to help their loved one get well.

The second half of the summit began with Joseph Robinson from “Each Mind Matters,” the organization responsible for the “Know the Signs” campaign which focuses on educating others to know the signs of suicide. Robinson discussed the stigma around mental health and some of the ways in which Each Mind Matters is challenging it by starting conversations among teens and college-aged students. The organization provided lime green ribbons for conference attendees in honor of May being Mental Health Awareness month. More information on the “Know the Signs” campaign can be found at www.suicideispreventable.org.

April Dillow at Mental Health Summit

Pastor David Mandani gave his testimony of hope as a pastor living with schizophrenia. Mandani’s journey toward wellness and resilience was filled with some very low-low’s, at one point deciding to end his life. He credits the hope of Jesus and his relationships with those around him for where he is in his journey today.  He currently serves as the pastor of mental health at Saddleback Church. His call to action for the Church at the end of the night was timely and needed. The Church has a unique position to LOVE those who are sick, to start the conversations surrounding mental health, and to come together to provide help and hope for those who are hurting.

I was honored to be a part of such an amazing event. I held hands with a woman who shared her story of suicide attempts and how giving her life to Jesus Christ saved her life. I discussed signs and symptoms, mental health care, and survivor guilt with a room full of strangers who have been affected by suicide. The High Desert Mental Summit was a needed event here in the high desert.  It was full of love and hope and the small changes we can make as a community.

It starts in our homes. One conversation at a time. Challenging the stigma by having uncomfortable conversations.

Let us extend a hand, reach out to a neighbor, smile at a stranger, and cultivate hope.

Lives will be saved.

For an extended printable list of helpful resources see Community Resources 3pgs.

 

April is a wife, mother, business owner, and author. She published her first children’s book in 2016. She owns and operates www.thestampedlily.com, a small jewelry business she runs from home. She now writes on grief, loss, and community, among other topics via the platform God’s given her through her creative business. April uses her writing and her jewelry designing as creative outlets to help inspire and encourage others.

- A word from our sponsors -

spot_img

Most Popular

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be the first to.know what's happening in the Christian community

More from Author

Memorial Planned for Renown Innovative Faith Leader Dr. Frederick K.C. Price

Memorial services for the incomparable Apostle Frederick K. C. Price, the trail-blazing televangelist and founder of the Crenshaw Christian Center, will be held on Saturday, March 6.

4word Hosts Tenth Anniversary Celebration Online – Gala for the Girls

The 4word 2021 Virtual Gala: An Evening with Mary Lou Retton, will be a victorious evening of inspiration, camaraderie, faith, and unapologetic ambition held on February 27, 2021

International Healing Minister, Charles Carrin Turns 90

Dapper is he, as he strolls into TooJay's on Palm Beach...

20 Quotes to Encourage Friendships During COVID-19

Besties. BFF’s. Life-long friends. Friend is such a wonderful and endearing...

- A word from our sponsors -

spot_img

Prayer, Faith Can Help Teens with Mental Health Issues

A study on teens and young adults confirmed that those who pray and have a relationship with God were more likely to flourish in life more than their peers.

Count Your Blessings Daily, Not Just Once a Year

I heard about a family seated around their table looking at the beautiful golden-brown turkey. Dressing and gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, various vegetables, and casseroles complemented the turkey. From the oldest to the youngest, they went around and expressed their praise.

More than 7,000 Kids Decide to Follow Jesus –YFC

The Youth for Christ announced that 7,323 kids and teens decided to follow Jesus Christ this year, twice the record reported in 2021.

Billy Graham Archive & Research Center is Now Open

The new Billy Graham Archive and Research Center opened in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 7, the birthday of the late evangelist.

MercyMe hopes new album can help heal divisions: ‘We’ve got a divided body of Christ’ 

Bart Millard and his MercyMe bandmates began writing some of the songs on their latest album in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, long before the nation was divided over issues that now dominate the headlines.  Millard, though, believes the album’s release in 2022 had been God’s plan...

‘Praise the Lord!’ Ukrainian Christians Cheer Kherson Liberation

Ukrainian Christians celebrate the liberation of Kherson with cheers of praise and thanksgiving, seven months after Russia occupied the city.

JESUS Film Makes History, Now Translated in 2,000 Languages

The JESUS film makes history as it is now translated into its 2,000th language making it the most translated film of all time.

U.S. Renews Calls Against Blasphemy Laws

The United States joined 15 countries in expressing concern over international blasphemy laws.

Franklin Graham Attracts Record-breaking Audience in Italy

More than 13,200 people gathered for an evangelical outreach led by Franklin Graham in Milan, Italy on October 29.

A Hindu PM Marks a Historic Moment in the UK

Rishi Sunak becomes Britain's first Hindu prime minister. He is also the first person of color to hold the highest office in the UK.

A New Biblical Worldview Study Series is Now Available Online

Family Research Council and Summit Ministries announced a partnership launching a new biblical worldview series called Now We Live.

Gen Z Could Change the Faith Landscape in Australia

Two recent surveys on Christianity and the church in Australia found that Gen Zs are generally open to conversations about faith and spirituality.