Spirituality Committee recognizes positive power of faith
When the homeless population in Kings County was asked about its most pressing needs, many said they’d like a way to do their laundry on a regular basis.
Now, they’re able to do just that, through the efforts of two local churches that organized a laundry day for the homeless each Thursday morning. The churches teamed up with a laundry facility, coordinated volunteers and provided funding for the service.
The laundry day is just one accomplishment of the Kings County Spirituality Committee for Wellness, a partnership between Kings County Behavioral Health and the faith-based community. The committee is
Part of the department’s “mind, body and spirit” approach to caring for clients.
“When we’re talking wellness and recovery, we’re talking total person,” says Brenda Randle, program manager for Kings County Behavioral Health.
The idea behind the Spirituality Committee is twofold. On the one hand, mental health professionals often hear from clients that faith is a central part of their life and shouldn’t be left out of their recovery.
“They didn’t want someone to tell them to forget their faith,” Randle says. “Who was the therapist to tell them that’s not important?”
At the same time, clergy needed more information on how to recognize mental illness within their congregations and what treatment resources are available.
The effort is helping more county residents get help for mental health challenges they may be facing, “no matter which door they walked in through,” Randle says.
Other projects the Spirituality Committee has been involved with include the “Each Mind Matters” campaign in May. Volunteers handed out green ribbons and informational cards aimed at reducing the stigma of mental illness. Randle says nearly 5,000 ribbons were distributed at local churches, including several hundred she gave out at her own church.
And in September, Kings County churches included information in their bulletins about Suicide Prevention Month and list the phone number for a suicide prevention hotline.
Spirituality Committee member Roger Watson, a pastor at Koinonia Christian Fellowship, says the group serves as a co-op of mental health and social services.
Before the committee formed, many churches were unaware of what others in the community offered, Watson says. For example, Koinonia hosts a variety of support groups, including those for alcohol or drug addiction, sexual assault victims, and anger management. Other local churches run halfway houses for men, shelters for battered women or food pantries — complementing the services provided by Kings County.
The broad community support facilitates recovery for those facing mental health challenges, Watson says.
“We’ve got to embrace both the psychological and spiritual in order to get the change we’re looking for,” Watson says.
Inclusiveness is key to spirituality committee
On the second Monday of each month, from noon to 1:30 p.m., representatives of local churches gather to discuss the mental health challenges they see in the community and partner on solutions. Kings County Behavioral Health hosts the meetings and provides lunch.
The committee is open to all denominations and religions, and has even included a holistic healer, according to Brenda Randle, program manager for Kings County Behavioral Health. The group has been meeting since September 2014 and is growing.
“Anybody in the faith-based community is welcome,” Randle says. The committee is an outgrowth of the statewide Mental Health and Spirituality Initiative launched in 2008 and funded by behavioral health authorities in 51 California counties.
The initiative has also included training. In April, two workshops were held: a primer on mental health for clergy and an overview of spirituality for mental health professionals. Each session drew more than 70 people, Randle says.
For more information on the Spirituality Committee, contact Randle at 559-852-2975 or firstname.lastname@example.org