Presbyterian Mental Health Network hosted panel discussion
April 28, 2021
The global pandemic’s impact on mental and sempiritual health was the focus of a recent panel discussion by the Presbyterian Mental Health Network.
The online discussion was the first major event for the network, which is striving to become an information hub for Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) pastors and members looking for ways to better serve the mental health needs of their congregations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a myriad of mental health challenges.
“During the pandemic, and everything else that’s going on right now, I don’t think you will find a human being that is not struggling with their mental health,” said Tara Rolstad, a network member and professional speaker. “These are just rough, anxious times.”
Sharing their expertise at the event was the Rev. Dr. Bridget Piggue, director of spiritual health at Emory University Hospital Midtown in Atlanta; the Rev. Dr. Jerry Cannon, head of staff at C.N. Jenkins Memorial Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Dr. Valerie Lipscomb, ruling elder/clerk of session at Kirkwood Church in Bradenton, Florida.
The panel discussion focused on “the specific issues that the pandemic has raised for our faith community,” Rolstad said. “So whether that’s pastors, church leaders, congregants and even families in the communities that we serve, how has the pandemic specifically affected our mental health and what are some of the issues that folks are already struggling with?”
The event, which was free and open to the public, also touched on “solutions and some of the ways we can help each other,” she said.
In a Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll conducted in mid-July, 53% of U.S. adults reported that their mental health had been negatively impacted by worry and stress over the coronavirus. That was up from 32% in March, the first time the question had been included, according to KFF.
Many adults also reported specific troubles, such as difficulty sleeping (36%) or eating (32%), increased alcohol consumption or substance use (12%) and the worsening of chronic conditions (12%) due to worry and stress over the coronavirus, KFF noted.
By holding a panel discussion for those who are affected or have an interest in mental health, “we definitely are hoping that they will be encouraged that there’s an organization dedicated to this issue now and that they’ll show up to be a part of this conversation,” Rolstad said.
The network also hopes to attract people who might be interested in becoming more involved with the network, which was called for as part of a Presbyterian mental health initiative adopted by the 223rd General Assembly in 2018.
The network is intended “to provide a point of connection and support for people who want to work on mental health ministry where they are,” said Donna Miller, Associate for Mental Health Ministry for PC(USA).
Darla Carter, Communications Associate, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: Presbyterian Mental Health Network
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