National Alliance on Mental Illness
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June 16, 2006

San Antonio Hosts Interfaith Mental Health Ministries Training

On April 8, 2006, NAMI San Antonio and the Mental Health Task Force of San Antonio conducted an interfaith mental health ministry training. The event, the first of its kind in Texas, drew over 70 clergy and lay persons from 25 faith communities.

This training was the first step in a pilot project spearheaded by the Community Outreach and Education Committee of the Bexar Mental Health Task Force.  The Bexar Faith-based Mental Health Project seeks to empower members of faith communities to run faith-based support groups and offer referral services. The project also seeks to prepare clergy to provide appropriate support to families and persons with mental illness.

The Task Force is made up of religious leaders and individuals who work in mental health and social service fields, family members, and people diagnosed with brain disorders. Judges and other government public servants are represented as well. Organizations participating in the project include the Alliance for Mental Health Consumers’ Rights, Center for Health Care Services, NAMI San Antonio, NAMI Texas, and San Antonio Independent Living Services.

For participating congregations, the pilot project includes the following components:

  • A training program for up to three potential support group facilitators from each faith community
  • A training program for families from faith communities and the surrounding area
  • A half-day of training for clergy
  • At least a half day of training on community resources that offer mental health services, housing assistance, aid with applying for disability benefits., and other needed services

Yolanda Alvarado, who serves on the board of NAMI San Antonio, is chair of the Faith-based Mental Health Ministry Initiative. She says that now that the initial training is complete, she is turning her attention to follow-up, to determine what actions those in attendance are planning for their congregations.

For more information, contact NAMI San Antonio at (210) 734-9596.

Visit the NAMI FaithNet Web site for more information on faith and mental illness